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Fighting Lockdown in California: A US Teacher Speaks

Left Lockdown Skeptics

March 18, 2021

Left Lockdown Sceptics interviews Andy Libson, an American anti-lockdown high school teacher and revolutionary socialist

 

“The notion of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education.”

 

— World Economic Forum, January 2020

 

“Hastily made agreements and deals made by schools with Google and Microsoft, either for free or heavily subsidized, will be extremely hard to undo. These companies are in competition for structural dominance over the digital infrastructure of schooling for the very long term. They will be integral to new modes of ‘hybrid’ schooling promoted by the tech sector and influential organizations such as the OECD, UNESCO and the World Bank. Their systems are practical instantiations of an imagined future of education in which public-private partnerships play a key role, and private infrastructures undergird increasing aspects of teaching, learning and school management.”

 

The Edtech Pandemic Shock, October 3, 2020

 

 

 

Excerpts:

1. Could you tell us what your background is and your experience in the working class movement and where you are active?

I am a high school physics and chemistry teacher at Mission High School in San Francisco, California. I have been teaching for 21 years at Mission High, a public school serving a population of largely poor students of color. As a member of the United Educators of San Francisco, I have been active in the union my entire career as the equivalent of a shop steward, and even spent a few years on the union’s executive board. Currently, I am not the shop steward, but was elected to the Union Building Committee that helps organize our work site.

Politically, I am a communist. I joined the International Socialist Organization (ISO) [twinned with the Socialist Workers Party in the UK – Ed] around 2000. In 2010 I left the ISO because I felt it was an organization entirely run from the top and that it was moving in a troubling reformist direction. Afterwards I was part of a group called La Voz, but was kicked out a few years later for publishing articles La Voz felt I should not put out publicly (here and here).

…I believe the only way out of the mess we are in today is another working class revolution for the establishment of socialism. But that will not take place through the ballot box. It will require mass strikes and an armed insurrection to establish it. Also, it cannot be called socialism unless working class democracy is at its center and is preserved and expanded through the course of the revolution and beyond. Overall, while I firmly believe capitalism must be dismantled, I have more questions than answers about the state of our political tradition and the process by which this mass socialist uprising will take place. Part of the reason I started “What’s Left?”, a podcast/channel I host with two friends, was to give myself an open space to investigate political questions that I am still working through.

The last year has made the prospects for revolutionary change (which were exceedingly dim before the mania around COVID started) seem even more unlikely. I have witnessed the revolutionary Left collapse behind the capitalist state and institutions through the course of the pandemic. I am exceedingly grateful for the existence of Left Lockdown Sceptics and their attempt to fashion a Left response and oppositions to the authoritarian maneuvers of the capitalist classes across the globe. This blog has been a glimmer of hope for me in what has felt like an ocean of despair.

2. What has been your experience of the lockdown policy in the USA?

Lockdown in the United States has been miserable on several levels. First, it has led to our physical schools being shuttered for a full year. We have been forced to teach entirely remotely. This has been terrible for the students and downright awful for me. Education under capitalism is an exercise in indoctrination and preparing future workers for accepting their continual exploitation at their work, but the one element of my job I actually believed in was the relationships I formed with students and their families. Also, working and talking with my colleagues in person made the job less soul-crushing.

…the most troubling element for me politically has been that opposition to the political developments around COVID have largely come from the political Right and not at all from the Left. Opposition to lockdown, to mask mandates, to mandated PCR testing, to vaccination mandates, to remote learning and to even the notion that we should question the narrative around COVID being spread by the capitalist state, none of that has come from the reformist or revolutionary Left here in the United States. The most meaningful critiques and actions in response to these mandates are all found on the Right or among libertarians.

Two outliers to that have been the work of Alison McDowell and Cory Morningstar on exposing the connection between these mandates and the political and economic initiatives pushed by what is globally being described as the Fourth Industrial revolution. Their work has been fundamental in helping me understand what is going on right now. I would also recommend the work of Jake Klyceck in exposing how these initiatives intersect specifically with changes taking place in education.

3. When did you begin to question the lockdown policy?

"Preparing tomorrow's workforce for the Fourth Industrial Revolution" - "Deloitte is a long-standing strategic partner of the World Economic Forum"

“Preparing tomorrow’s workforce for the Fourth Industrial Revolution” – “Deloitte is a long-standing strategic partner of the World Economic Forum”

 

Pretty much from the beginning in February and March 2020 when all the fear of Sars-Cov-2 was really picking up in the United States, the level of alarm being rung never made sense to me. Both then and now, I consider the scale of danger of Sars-Cov-2 and the COVID-19 associated with it, as not too different from the flu. When all the mandates for shutting things down were happening last March, I suspected there was another interest in play. I largely believed we were seeing a ‘controlled demolition’ of the economy as capitalism was entering another period of global crisis (or business cycle). I felt the mandates were economically driven and conveniently provided political cover of blaming the economic destruction on a virus rather than the normal boom bust cycles of Capitalism.

It was not until I read an article by Whitney Webb describing the connection between these events and the plans to develop artificial intelligence (AI), as well as the notion of seeing data as most important commodity to control and accumulate within the inter-imperialist rivalries of global capitalism (particularly in the competition between the US and China). This is where my exploration changed from seeing this as just another moment of capitalist sleight of hand to seeing that the world was in fact being changed not as a ‘cover’ for a weak global economy but out of the rapacious competition for profits by the largest global capitalist centers who were about to hurl us into a world of even greater ‘productivity’ by using our data and the data we generate from our daily work and lives to replace both our manual and mental labor with machines.

I also began to see a future where the working class was being physically separated and atomized in a process that looked to me like ‘reverse enclosure’. I worry that this physical separation, where all our work is eventually done remotely (which I believe is where this is headed), may actually turn the working class effectively into a peasant class (or gig workers). We will still be exploited, but no longer a class that understands itself or experiences itself as a collective class. To me, this takes the Marxist notion of working class revolution off the table, making me wonder if this is part of what is in operation right now. Nevertheless, I know the capitalists are wanting to separate us, and I know that is part of their plan for accumulating profits and competing even more aggressively with each other for a share of those profits in the coming decade. All of this, by definition, comes at the expense of the working class unless we oppose all aspects of the changes being implemented today.

4. As a socialist teacher you have been campaigning to re-open schools. How has that campaign been going?

I think we need to get back to our source of power – our workplace and centers where we congregate to do work – immediately and begin figuring out how we can stop what is coming. The remote learning experience we are going through right now is not a momentary mirage of a world trying to escape COVID. What we are witnessing and participating in (as either educator or student) is the future of education that is preparing future workers for what work will be like in the coming years: remote, on a screen, mediated through data flow and transmission, overseen, monitored and directed by AI. Students are experiencing education (separated, individualized, isolated, controlled and obscure) as they will experience their future work.

Participating in remote learning today isn’t ‘safer’, it’s actually far more dangerous to all our futures. It means our lives will be more separated, more surveilled, more scrutinized and more controlled than ever before. Physical schools will be replaced with laptops and drop-in centers. Teachers will be replaced with screens and AI. Education itself will be a lifelong chase, not of learning, but of job skills so each worker can compete in a global labor market where ever-centralized capitalist centers get their pick of the litter to screen for and exploit workers not as a class but as an isolated worker connected via a screen.

This is not how my colleagues see things. They believe the danger is COVID and have accepted the capitalist narrative that the greatest danger we now face is a virus and society must be restructured to face that danger. My desire to get back immediately, with full in-person contact—no masks or 6 feet of separation, no mandated tests or vaccinations—is largely seen as dangerously conspiratorial or even as right-wing demagoguery. Virtually everyone around me has accepted the narrative that what must animate our actions are safety precautions related to COVID rather than the need to immediately reassemble our forces at work so we can figure out how to oppose the Fourth Industrial project that is being put in place without our knowledge, but with our implicit agreement and participation.

I have worked with a small group of educators to discuss reopening schools but we have been largely ineffective at reaching our fellow workers. Our union leadership and the vast majority of our membership has been focused on COVID and safety rather than the more immediate and dangerous threat of the dismantling of in-person education, the mass datamining of students and educators that will result from it, and the deskilling of education through our work evermore being replaced by AI. The position of ‘keeping ourselves and our students safe’ has actually hidden the real threat we are facing and has led teachers to be seen by many parents as animated only by the interests of saving our own skins (rightfully so in my opinion). But this story of safety is not true—we are actually hurting ourselves by agreeing to ANY remote learning at this point. The capitalists are now exploiting this schism between educators and parents.

Now the initiative has been pretty much taken by the capitalist class as lockdown fanatics like CA Governor Gavin Newsom or SF Mayor London Breed suddenly become champions of ‘opening schools’ when they have spent the last year cynically being merchants of the fear used to shut them. We educators, slow to recognize this shift in the narrative from the top, are now going to be blamed for some of the worst aspects of the lockdown imposed by the capitalist state. Now the workers (who were indoctrinated in fear by the capitalists) can be scapegoated as the barrier to ‘returning to normal’.

At the same time, capitalists are using all the fear they have whipped up to push for a return to school experience that will emphasize masks, social distancing, mass vaccinations and PCR testing, and of course, hybrid learning. Many people will mistake hybrid learning as a ‘transition’ back to full in-person learning at a future date (2023, 2024). That is false. Hybrid learning is the transition state to full online learning which is not yet workable for the capitalists but COVID made possible to begin the shift to the ‘experiment’ in education we’ve gone through this last year.

In a nutshell, education and educational workers have been smashed this last year, and we don’t even know it happened. Our situation, in my opinion, is dreadful.

5. What has been the attitude from other socialists when you raised criticisms?

"The notion of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education."

“The notion of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education.”

 

Socialists in the United States have completely accepted the ‘virus as the greatest danger’ narrative even if their own politics are centered on understanding that the capitalist class and Capitalism represents an existential threat to all workers. They have accepted the need for lockdown and, in fact, have been critical that the lockdown has not been more severe.

They have accepted mask mandates. They have accepted the need for continued remote learning. They have accepted mass vaccination, critical only of the social justice issues of its implementation. They have accepted contact tracing largely without a peep of opposition nor even wondering who will benefit from our DNA being collected and mined as a result. They have accepted the narrative that the threat COVID represents justifies all these changes. They have also accepted and promoted the notion that any opposition to these measures is right-wing and anti-worker.

To the extent there has been a critique, it has been calling for a stimulus package that offers economic relief and more money in workers’ pockets from the government in the form of a universal basic income (UBI). This is also playing into the hands of the capitalists who will be delivering us a UBI as they move to a digital currency where they can use cash distributions to more directly control a working class population that’s increasingly desperate as more and more jobs are automated.

Basically, the revolutionary Left here has not only made a complete capitulation to the capitalist project but has joined in by pushing virtually every one of these anti-worker initiatives in the name of fighting for workers’ rights. It is really enough to make a revolutionary crazy in a world where ‘up’ means ‘down’, ‘freedom’ means ‘bondage’, ‘safety’ means ‘danger’, and ‘opposition’ means ‘surrender’.

6. Why do you think there has been so little pushback from the Left against lockdowns?

"Industry Agenda", 2015: "Within one minute of work, the program can collect, analyse and respond to more than 800 pieces of data about a student and how he or she learns, according to the organization."

“Industry Agenda”, 2015: “Within one minute of work, the program can collect, analyse and respond to more than 800 pieces of data about a student and how he or she learns, according to the organization.”

 

…things like the Transition Program as a guide to getting our bearings in the absence of struggle and in our relative isolation has led revolutionaries to become reformists as they come up with schemes of proposing specific reforms that will lead workers to revolution. Tracing out a bread-crumb trail of reforms has had the effect not of radicalizing workers but of transforming generations of revolutionaries to think like reformists. Last, I think the low level of struggle, the atrophy of our organizations and complete isolation from the class has largely caused us to give up on the idea of working class revolution in anything but name. We are no longer animated by that singular goal because we see it as so far off. That’s my best guess.

Since Marxist class politics are largely absent and separated from the U.S. working class, the revolutionary Left has both been weakened and even politically influenced by the rise and dominance of identity politics within the U.S. Left as a response to the attacks by the capitalist class. While wrapped in radical, anti-racist rhetoric, identity politics has had the net effect of both dividing the working class along identity lines and politically feeding workers into the Democratic Party who are the main ruling class advocates of both identity politics and of lockdowns, biomedical mandates and Covid fear-mongering.

Overall, A revolutionary Left that has given up on revolution can only work within the capitalist framework of reforms as it makes its way through the system. I think that is what we have been doing, coming up with capitalist solutions to problems that have no fundamental answer save through international working class socialist revolution. But if you have given up on that possibility because it seems so far off, then you are stuck talking about capitalism in capitalist terms.

7. Have you any ideas on how the Left can fight back and build a resistance movement against the bio-security state?

You can’t fight these things if you are not actually against them. So the first thing the Left in the United States needs to do is get its head on straight and realize it must oppose all contact tracing initiatives, any mandated testing, mandated vaccinations and any ID system that will be used to force workers and students to participate in these programs. We also have to expose and oppose the DNA mining endemic in the testing regime we are being put through and the data mining in all this remote work, remote learning, remote purchasing and remote living we are being put through.

Fundamentally, we have to remind ourselves that our project is a collective one and that any attempt to separate workers instituted by the capitalist class must be seen as an attack on our class and resisted as such. We will not be able to wage ANY sort of resistance to what is being instituted through the Fourth Industrial revolution behind our laptops. No matter how big our virtual meetings, we have to understand those meetings are in a controlled, corporate space that can be shut down by them any time. No fundamental change will come through participation in those spaces. So our starting point must be to challenge the mainstream narrative that is being used to terrify us of each other and then actually reassemble at work or other physical spaces to figure out what we do to try and turn the tide.

At schools, I think that means ripping up the Silicon Valley software and hardware infrastructure that is being used to dismantle in-person learning and prepare future workers for an all-remote experience and to use the work of current educators to lay the groundwork for replacing us with AI. In my opinion, that means uprooting the entire digital apparatus that’s in place and returning education to a physical, sensory experience of the world and in relationship with each other. How deep does the uprooting have to go? I am not sure, but I would say that the fight is not just about ‘returning’ to our pre-COVID educational system (that system has always been about exploitation), but seeing our schools as a center of struggle against the machinations of the Capitalists trying to reorganize all of society to maximize profits by maximizing their data collection on us.

8. Would you like to send out a message to other socialists internationally who are fighting the lockdown?

All I can say is thank you to socialists, anarchists and revolutionaries of any stripe across the water who have been responsible for reminding us that revolutionary work requires complete opposition to the capitalist project. We have fallen down badly here in the United States and I think it will be your efforts abroad that may shine a light to help orient and re-orient revolutionaries here.

I guess I would ask that we remember that the fight isn’t against Lockdown but against the capitalist class that is using lockdown to control and frighten us. Lockdowns will pass, but unless we remember that our goal is to take down the entire system, and that that project, as far away as it may seem, is an immediate and an urgent one, then we are much less likely to get fooled again. We still have nothing to lose but our chains. That is worth remembering in this time of drought and difficulty.

Full article:

https://leftlockdownsceptics.com/2021/03/fighting-lockdown-in-california-a-us-teacher-speaks/

 

[Andy Libson has taught science at Mission High School in San Francisco for over 20 years.  He received his PhD in biophysics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine prior to his decision to become a teacher. He is a longtime Marxist and a socialist. In 2018 Andy and Eduardo Abarca started the “What’s Left?” podcast series in order to explore the left narratives dominating political discussions.]

[Left Lockdown Sceptics: “We are a group of socialists in the UK who oppose lockdown policy on the basis that it doesn’t work, is based on bad science and causes unnecessary harm and deaths to society. The impact of lockdown is most severe on the working class and vulnerable people, including children.” Full statement]

 

 

 

The Shapers of Slavery – A Global Project of the World Economic Forum [Winter Oak Series]

Winter Oak

January, 2021

 

“The Shapers of Slavery”. A 5-part investigation of the World Economic Forum’s “Global Shapers” initiative – by Winter Oak.

 

“Over 900 Global Shapers joined World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab for talks on the Great Reset initiative. Putting the world back on a path towards inclusive and sustainable development will require more than a global recovery. It will require a Great Reset that places all citizens, especially young people, at the heart of social and economic systems.” — Global Shapers Community Annual Report 2019–2020

 

Source: http://killercoke.org/

 

Part I, January 9, 2021:

Shapers of slavery: the plan

Excerpt:

“But, in fact, Schwab’s Great Reset is not just rhetoric: he and his corporate accomplices have been busy, for many years, building up a massive networks of collaborators to spring their heist.

 

One of these is the Global Shapers Community, set up by Schwab in 2011, registered in Geneva, Switzerland, and based at the World Economic Forum offices.”

Global Shapers - The Foundation Board

Global Shapers – The Foundation Board

 

Part II, January 10, 2021:

Shapers of slavery: the leadership

Excerpt:

“A democratic society shapes itself – by means of the participation of its citizens in discussing and deciding how things should be organised and to what ends.

But, as even their name reveals, the Global Shapers want to “shape” society from above and in their own interests.”

Part III, January 11, 2021:

Shapers of slavery: the empire

Excerpt:

“This is a world of “social impact investing”, of lucrative human and natural “capital”, a world of blockchain, robotics and AI, of equity funds and pharmaceutical businesses, a world of exponential profit and exploitation hidden behind a rhetoric of “inclusivity”, “sustainability” and “systemic change”.

World Economic Forum Electoral Candidates, British Columbia, Canada, 2020

World Economic Forum Electoral Candidates, British Columbia, Canada, 2020

 

What Will the World Look Like When the New Generation Leads? | Time.com

Part IV, January 12, 2021:

Shapers of slavery: the virus

Excerpt:

“As the pandemic awakened the collective to long-standing system gaps, we mobilized a global community to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world.”

March 19, 2020, Twitter: Global Shapers Response to COVID-19

March 19, 2020, Twitter: Global Shapers Response to COVID-19

 

" As the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation, the World Economic Forum, acting as partner to the World Health Organization, is mobilizing all stakeholders to protect lives and livelihoods."

“As the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation, the World Economic Forum, acting as partner to the World Health Organization, is mobilizing all stakeholders to protect lives and livelihoods.”

 

Part V, January 13, 2021:

Shapers of slavery: the awakening

Excerpt:

“We would encourage everyone to explore and expose the identity and activities of hubs in their own area, starting with the information the Global Shapers have so helpfully provided for us.

 

We would also encourage you to seek out your local Global Shapers and confront them with questions, whether via social media or in the real world.”

#WeSeeEqual - a Procter & Gamble's (P&G's) Gender-Equality Corporate Branding Campaign

#WeSeeEqual – a Procter & Gamble’s (P&G’s) Gender-Equality Corporate Branding Campaign

ABB on Twitter: "We are very proud to have our collaborative #YuMiRobot on the cover of @TIME magazine's special #WEF19 edition demonstrating how humans and robots work side-by-side without barriers. Special print

Naomi Klein, Conspiracy Theorist

OpEd News

March 9, 2021

By Lorenzo Raymond

 

Author Naomi Klein, and Klaus Shwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, endorse “The Future We Choose”, authored by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac. [Source: Amazon]

When it comes to the “Great Reset,” Naomi Klein is offended. Her intelligence is insulted. Her legacy is tarnished. And she is here to correct the record.

As the sun set on 2020, Professor Klein stood up as the only adult in the room among those who research the machinations of multi-national corporations. The celebrated author excoriated all those sounding an alarm about The Great Reset program advanced by the World Economic Forum, the hypercapitalist organization notorious for its annual meetings in Davos, Switzerland. There was no evidence, she wrote in December, that the Great Reset promised to “turn the world into a high-tech dictatorship that will take away your freedom” through “a Big Pharma/GMO/biometric implants/5G/robot dog/forced-vaccine” agenda, as some on the “far left” claimed. Anybody who entertained the idea was just a useful idiot of Steven Bannon, serving up “an information-sh*t sandwich.” It all adds up to a yucky “conspiracy smoothie” because the Great Reset is merely a linear progression from inconsequential WEF programs of the past, and the Forum itself is relatively insignificant.

Why such brusque dismissal and puerile invective from the public intellectual? Klein insists that the Reset is a desperate “lunge for organizational relevance,” because the World Economic Forum is lacking in that apparently. This assertion is odd because the WEF counts among its partners Microsoft, BP, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the United NationsRepeat visitors to Davos over the past three years include the world’s most celebrated activist, Greta Thunberg, and its most prominent state leaders, including Donald Trump and President Xi of China. If this indicates a lack of relevance, what would being impactful look like?

Beyond “exaggerating” the significance of WEF, Great Reset analysis vexes Klein because it’s “a bastardization of a concept” that she’d discovered, the “shock doctrine.” She describes the shock doctrine as encompassing “the many ways that elites try to harness deep disasters to push through policies that further enrich the already wealthy and restrict democratic liberties.” But as many critics of the theory have pointed out, the shock doctrine doesn’t just portray establishment actors as harnessing catastrophe ex post facto, it chronicles them causing it to advance monopoly disaster capitalism. Klein has repeatedly applied it this way herself.

Klein’s 2009 book on the subject includes the following examples of conspiracy: Jeffrey Sachs and the IMF deliberately forcing poor governments around the world to collapse their countries’ social institutions through austerity so that the infrastructure could then be “rescued” (that is, bought up or infiltrated) by private investors; Margaret Thatcher instigating the Falklands War as a way to undercut labor unrest in the UK; and George W. Bush contriving the Iraq War as a pretext for imposing a pliant neoliberal economy and winning profits in military spending and oil concessions for his cronies. The extended metaphor she chose for the shock doctrine involves MK-Ultra, a Central Intelligence Agency program that secretly hired distinguished doctors and nurses to conduct torturous brainwashing experiments on unsuspecting mental patients; the healthcare workers actively destroyed the victims’ psyches so that they could be built back better in a more malleable form.

Critics of the book pointed out that the shock doctrine sounded like a conspiracy theory. Klein was livid, and wrote a blog post debunking some of their lesser examples as straw men. But despite the 5000-word length of her piece, the author never rebutted the observation that her IMF, Falklands War, and Iraq scenarios were conspiratorial. Instead, she simply ignored them. This was an understandable strategy, as Klein’s status as a pillar of the progressive establishment would be over if she explicitly stated that the actions of the elite not only have vicious consequences, but often malicious premeditated intent. Even fellow progressive Joseph Stiglitz called her “overdramatic and unconvincing” and “not an academic” in her analysis, while ex-UN official Shashi Tharoor wrote that Klein “is too ready to see conspiracies where others might discern little more than the all-too-human pattern of chaos and confusion…” “Conspiracism” won’t just get you sneered at, but potentially labeled an anti-intellectual, an anti-Semite, a psychotic, and a fascist.

In 2021, concern about conspiracy theories has grown into a full-fledged moral panic fed both by the neoliberal establishment and by the respectable left. Social media companies now have a policy of censoring any post regarding the Great Reset; YouTube banned a Zero Books video that merely mentioned Reset theories to criticize them in terms similar to Klein’s. Then there are the jibes made by Adam Curtis in his new documentary Can’t Get You Out of My Head. Alongside a sensible warning about crediting the elite with omnipotence, Curtis oversells his opposition to unofficial narratives to the point of telling us not to do our own reasoning. “Pattern recognition” he tells us, is faulty thinking that leads to paranoia. The proof? Jim Garrison, the New Orleans District Attorney who prosecuted a JFK assassination-conspiracy trial, wrote a memo entitled “Time and Propinquity: Investigation in Phase One,” where he told his staff to look for patterns of relationships among suspects. D.A. Garrison’s project had many problems, but this wasn’t one of them–pattern recognition is a standard part of forming hypotheses, and generating a hypothesis is the first step of the scientific method. (Curtis also chides that pattern recognition is the basis of artificial intelligence, forgetting he once made a documentary that discussed how the Aladdin AI system conquered the stock market for BlackRock through its 95% predictive accuracy.)

The real question is if it’s possible to be a deep critic of power and not be a conspiracy theorist of some kind. Indeed, Klein’s opponents could go much further with their accusations of conspiracism if they look at her more recent writing. Miriam-Webster defines conspiracy theory as a that which “explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators.” Stated positions of Naomi Klein that meet this criteria include:

– That the Democratic Party secretly influenced “the media and culture industries” to downplay the dangers of climate change during the Obama era (On Fire, pg. 76).

– That Barack Obama and the Filipino government conspired to remove anti-business climate negotiators from the Paris summit to deliver a plan so conservative it was basically “everything the Bush administration wanted.”

– That the 1989 Montreal spree-shooting was not just conceived by a lone madman, as many experts have said, but was generated by a discreet cultural network of homicidal misogynists.

– That “an elite minority has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our major media outlets.”

An elite minority has a stranglehold” over most of our major media outlets? I won’t claim that Klein, Jewish herself, is being antisemitic here. I prefer not to jump to conclusions. But it is one of the oldest dog whistles in the book. One that led to the Holocaust.

That last observation has a powerful emotional effect that makes us recoil from Klein’s claim. The reflex, ironically, is based on pattern recognition: The Nazis said X to falsely implicate the Jews; therefore anyone who says X is also implicating the Jews. It’s a decent first hypothesis–“phase one” as Jim Garrison would say–because a segment of conspiracy theorists really are antisemitic. There are good reasons to dismiss it as a paradigm though. One is that this would also disqualify discussion of Israeli war crimes and cover-ups in Palestine, as many Zionists insist.

So Klein isn’t opposed in principle to theorizing elite conspiracy. What then is her problem with investigating the Great Reset? Supposedly it’s a “distraction” from the real Covid shock doctrine embodied by Andrew Cuomo’s alliance with Silicon Valley oligarchs to “Reimagine Education” in New York. But looking at Klein’s May 2020 discussion of Reimagine Education, we find facts that are fully complementary to treating the Great Reset as an exceptional threat. The present Bill Gates-Eric Schmidt takeover, she writes, is “Far more high-tech than anything we have seen during previous disasters,” as it “treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent–and highly profitable–no-touch future.” She quotes the CEO of a rising AI corporation: “There has been a distinct warming up to human-less, contactless technology,” under the New Normal. “Humans are biohazards, machines are not.” Klein continued:

It’s a future in which our homes are never again exclusively personal spaces but are also, via high-speed digital connectivity, our schools, our doctor’s offices, our gyms, and, if determined by the state, our jails. Of course, for many of us, those same homes were already turning into our never-off workplaces and our primary entertainment venues before the pandemic, and surveillance incarceration “in the community” was already booming. But in the future under hasty construction, all of these trends are poised for a warp-speed acceleration–a future in which our every move, our every word, our every relationship is trackable, traceable, and data-mineable by unprecedented collaborations between government and tech giants.

This is more truth than we generally get from the progressive establishment in the US. But if it is possible to “damn with faint praise,” then it’s also possible to support with moderate criticism. The fact that this is all that Klein wrote about digital re-education through three entire seasons of lockdowns is an indictment. One would think from this report that Gates and Google have to be invited publicly by state officials in order to manipulate schools and profit off of remote learning. In fact, Reimagine Education has been discretely infiltrating schools across the country since 2015 with the collusion of two national teacher unions, the AFT and NEA. Labor leaders Randi Weingarten and Becky Pringle joined with Microsoft in promoting “disruptive technology,” “out-of-school learning,” and “blended learning.” These are all codewords for digital-dominated education, which would enable automated “experiential learning” to downsize the very school staff that the union bosses nominally represent. Klein’s remark that this technocratic power grab is “under hasty construction” is misinformation–the public-private, corporate-labor scheme has been at least five years in the making.

What else did Klein fail to mention? The plans for harvested data to be placed on digital blockchain and packaged into “social-impact bonds” (SIBs). SIBs are basically a “social-service” update on the derivatives that inflated the market in the days of the housing bubble. Since Wall Street supports continuing austerity, corporate monopolies, and precarious (at best) employment, this bubble of “social impact” is bound to collapse. The big investors will likely profit once again from shorting the market, leaving the general public in worse shape than ever. This appears to be the actual path to the “You will own nothing, and you will be happy” future that the World Economic Forum notoriously predicted. If nothing else it means what social scientists call “the financialization of urban policy.” Meanwhile, digital blockchain keeps a permanent record of intimate data, right down to DNA, on each “at risk” youth–disproportionately black and brown youth–who’ve received the social services. That certified data, officially collected for benign schemes like universal basic income and test-and-trace, can be used for whatever purposes the public-private partners in government and corporate America choose. For this reason, the NAACP passed a resolution two years ago denouncing blockchain social services:

Hundreds of billions of dollars have already been directed into social impact investments by the world’s most powerful individuals and financial institutions…in effect amplifying the investment wealth of elite investors on the backs of vulnerable communities.

You wouldn’t learn any of this from reading the author of The Shock Doctrine–nor from major progressive media outlets like Democracy Now!. I learned it from Alison Hawter McDowell and Cory Morningstar, two of the astute “far-left” researchers that Klein seems to be throwing shade at. They are also among the few on the left who are warning us about emerging schemes promoted by the WEF like militarized nanotechnology, “the Internet of Bodies,” “digital humans,” and the wrap-around concept of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.” These recipes for disaster capitalism have been documented in the business press for a decade, but Klein, despite her past specialization in corporatist conspiracies (and despite McDowell presenting them to her directly) has said nothing about them.

Professor Klein pillories Great Reset researchers like McDowell and Morningstar because some of their observations are echoed in conservative sources, and because they have an incisive critique of the corporatism of the progressive establishment. But this is a position that Klein herself championed in the past; her reputation as a radical is effectively built on it. In 2013, she told Salon that

there is a very deep denialism in the environmental movement among the Big Green groups. And to be very honest with you, I think it’s been more damaging than the right-wing denialism in terms of how much ground we’ve lost. Because it has steered us in directions that have yielded very poor results. I think if we look at the track record of Kyoto, of the UN Clean Development Mechanism, the European Union’s emissions trading scheme… Not only are emissions up, but you have no end of scams to point to, which gives fodder to the right. The right took on cap-and-trade by saying it’s going to bankrupt us, it’s handouts to corporations, and, by the way, it’s not going to work. And they were right on all counts.

What explains Naomi Klein’s current silence on, and even deflection from, crucial issues? Once perceived as the spokesperson for street activists of the anti-corporate globalization movement, Klein now works as the Facebook and Ford Foundation-sponsored Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies at “Public Ivy” Rutgers University. She promotes a version of the Green New Deal that’s guided by the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation through her organization 350.org. Klein’s devotion to this “sustainable” program (which relies on neocolonial technologies like carbon-capture storagelithium strip-mining, and even nuclear power) recently led her to coordinate a censorship campaign against the documentary Planet of the Humans–an investigative film covering corporate influence on the Green New Deal. But it gets spicier: Klein’s own environmental film The Message (This Changes Everything) was funded largely by Eric Schmidt (“The Schmidt Family Foundation“)–the very Google executive whom she purports to have exposed as a Covid corporatist.

Photo: Susan Rockefeller, home, NYC Klein’s 2015 book and film “This Changes Everything”, was initially launched as project “The Message” [Source]

Emulating Klein’s own past technique of connecting the dots, we can see there’s substantial ties between her Green New Deal and the WEF’s “stakeholder capitalism,” an overlap that Rockefeller Brothers Fund President Stephen Heintz made clear when he sat down for a public discussion with her two years ago. As reported on the RBF website, Heintz, following the lead of “the talk at Davos this year”, feels strongly that we need to “move to a new economy–from obsolete capitalism to a wellbeing economy, a wellbeing society that’s organized around equity and inclusion.” But, he said, social impact and profiteering “don’t need to be mutually exclusive”; “We can be both good stewards of capital and also of what the dollars are doing.” “Klein concurred,” states the Rockefeller report.

In the ninth chapter of The Shock Doctrine, Klein wrote about the sad fate of the once-revolutionary labor leader Lech Walesa. Walesa told the truth to the Polish working-class about the Stalinist technocracy that stifled them in the late 1970s, advocating for a populist socialism instead. As he rose to prominence in the Gorbachev years, however, Walesa became more pragmatic and mature. He joined the establishment and formed a new technocracy with “revolutionary” capitalists from the global institutions. Rather than reveal the danger that this great reset posed to Polish society, Walesa downplayed it and promoted the “bold vision” of economic reform that elite comrades like Jeffrey Sachs whispered in his ear about. The result was a bonanza for Western billionaires and catastrophic peonage for the most vulnerable in society. It’s bitterly ironic that Naomi Klein seems to be following a similar journey of betrayal.

 

[Lorenzo Raymond is an independent historian and educator living in New York City. He has contributed to The New Inquiry, Black Agenda Report, Commune magazine, and Counterpunch. He blogs at DiversityOfTactics.org]

The Virtual Education Shock Doctrine

The Virtual Education Shock Doctrine

California’s online-schooling model is a glimpse into the future of digital austerity.

The Bellows

October 4, 2020

By Alex Gutentag

 

Long-distance learning

(Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters)

In California, the nation’s most populous state, 90% of students started the school year entirely online. When schools closed in March, 50% of low-income California students lacked the necessary technology to access distance learning. Broader tech distribution was available for the 2020-21 school year thanks to donations from companies like HP, Lenovo, Amazon, Apple, T-Mobile, Microsoft, and Google. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey even personally donated $10 million to the city of Oakland’s tech initiative. With chromebooks and wifi hotspots now available for every student, California legislators and corporations congratulated themselves on closing the “digital divide.”

Despite their improved tech access, many students have more pressing material needs. Over 260,000 California students experience homelessness every year, and over 20% of California children live below the poverty line. The tech industry has not made massive donations to medical and therapy services, which low-income students often receive through community schools. Likewise, there is no private backing for the state’s free grab-and-go meals program.

Distance learning is a sleight of hand. Framed as a panacea, online education is actually the vehicle for a long-desired economic restructuring.

Online schooling will generate a treasure trove of data tech firms can buy and sell. Free meals will not. Silicon Valley boasts a yearly output of $275 billion and has a GDP similar to that of Qatar. Yet California, the world’s fifth largest economy, is currently withholding $11 billion from schools. Districts have been given IOUs for state funding and will not be reimbursed until next year. In contrast, California billionaires increased their net worth by over 25.5% ($175 billion) in the first three months of the pandemic.

Students throughout California are now stuck at home in hot, crowded rooms that occasionally fill with wildfire smoke. 19% of these students are English language learners and almost 13% of them have disabilities. Every day on Zoom they fall more and more behind both academically and socially. In Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest district, students are receiving 90-170 minutes of daily live instruction (depending on their age), after which they are expected to do independent work. Compared to the traditional six- or seven-hour school day, online education is laughably inadequate.

In real time, teachers and families are watching important developmental windows close for vulnerable children. Meanwhile the California Democratic Party and its affiliates tout virtual schooling as a solution for mitigating COVID-19 transmission. This policy is the result of an alignment between the Democratic Party, corporate power, and a bureaucratic teachers’ union. The purpose of their alignment is to rationalize austerity and boost commercial profits. Distance learning is a sleight of hand. Framed as a panacea, online education is actually the vehicle for a long-desired economic restructuring.

School Closures: An Unscientific and Regressive Policy

The Dreambox mathematics application: "Within one minute of work, the program can collect, analyse and respond to more than 800 pieces of data about a student and how he or she learns, according to the organization." [page 9]

The Dreambox mathematics application: “Within one minute of work, the program can collect, analyse and respond to more than 800 pieces of data about a student and how he or she learns, according to the organization.” [page 9]

California’s introduction of online schooling was driven by financial concerns, not medical or moral ones. Reopening safely would have required physical distancing plans, distribution of face shields or masks, sanitizing supplies, systems for daily health screenings, regular testing, widespread use of outdoor spaces, alternative schedules, smaller class sizes, and a massive hiring initiative. The primary reason these proposals were shot down was not rising COVID-19 cases as the governor, Gavin Newsom, asserted. California cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have been declining since August 1, but since then Newsom has only made reopening guidelines stricter.

The full prohibition on in-person learning directly contradicts the advice of medical and scientific experts. In June the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued recommendations for school re-openings, stating, “the AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.” The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued similar guidance. Schools, the authors argue, provide essential services to students and families.

Only after large school districts decided to stay closed did the AAP revise its original guidance to fit a perceived political consensus. Many clinical studies and reviews supported their original conclusion, demonstrating that children are less likely to transmit COVID-19 than adults, and school closures are an ineffective method of disease control. Not only will these irrational closures deepen class disparities, the policy has also overruled some children’s civil right to public education—a right that became universal in federal law less than 50 years ago.

It was not until 1975 that people with disabilities won a “Free and Appropriate Public Education” through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Before IDEA people with intellectual disabilities were often put in underfunded and abusive state schools, such as the infamous Willowbrook state school in Staten Island. Similarly, discrimination against English language learners was allowed until the 1974 passage of the Equal Education Opportunity Act.

Dismantling these gains is apparently of no concern to the California Democrats and the California Teachers Association (CTA), the state teachers union. Virtual learning effectively limits educational access for high-need populations. Yet as public resources are funneled into online learning platforms, the CTA regularly claims to be fighting back against billionaires and politicians. In reality, the teachers union is acting as an astroturfing and financing arm of the tech industry and the Democratic Party. There is no real conflict between these entities because their interests are identical.

The Teachers Union as Controlled Opposition

The Global Education Coalition was launched on March 25, 2020, by UNESCO. Founding partners include the World Bank, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, the BBC, and the Global Business Coalition for Education.

The Global Education Coalition was launched on March 25, 2020, by UNESCO. Founding partners include the World Bank, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, the BBC, and the Global Business Coalition for Education.

 

The median teacher salary in California is $65,252. On average, California teachers pay $1,072 in dues, and the majority of dues do not go to local organizations—they go to the CTA. In 2018 at least twelve CTA officers and directors made six-figure salaries. The CTA president took home about $340,000, and the union’s Associate Executive Director over $1 million. It is extremely difficult for teachers to find out how much of their dues money goes to political activities, let alone which of these activities actually help secure better working conditions and wages for teachers.

However, some information is available. California teachers’ dues directly contribute to the CTA’s PAC. Although teachers can opt out from donating to the PAC, this option is only given when they sign the form to join the union. While there are limits to the CTA’s donations to individual candidates through its PAC, the CTA can donate greater amounts through independent expenditure committees. For example, the CTA’s PAC donated only $29,000 to Newsom’s election campaign in 2018, but its independent expenditure committee gave $1 million to “Education Organizations for Gavin Newsom for Governor 2018.”

The National Education Association, which the CTA is a part of, is likewise opaque about how much dues money is used for political activities and what those activities are. In 2018 the NEA contributed about $5.4 million to candidates and political campaigns and spent close to $2.9 million on lobbying. After endorsing Joe Biden in March, the NEA now invites teachers to become “Educators for Joe” through its website.

The relationship between the union and the California Democratic Party extends to the CTA’s organizing work for ballot initiatives. Most recently, local California unions have asked their members to collect signatures and join rallies for Prop 15, the Students and Communities First Initiative. The slogan for Prop 15 is “Tax the Rich,” but the tax will not be on wealthy individuals, or directly on the revenue of California’s largest industries (tech, agriculture, tourism, and entertainment). The tax will instead be on business properties exceeding $3 million in value. The initiative is backed by national politicians like Elizabeth WarrenBernie SandersPete Buttigieg, and Michael Bloomberg. The Chan Zuckerberg Foundation has contributed over $6.3 million to support Prop 15.

Union members should be concerned about the fact that, according to the CTA’s own Prop 15 calculator, the plan will fund privately-operated charter schools in addition to public schools. Charter schools are property leasing schemes that exploit low-income communities for the benefit of investors. In using public school teachers to organize for this funding, the CTA has promoted an initiative that will allow investment capital to benefit from industrial property taxes, an expense that some worry will fall on small businesses in the form of increased rents. Given the level of mismanagement, cronyism, and anti-teacher animus plaguing the administrations of many California school districts, it is also worth wondering if Prop 15 money will go where it is truly needed (staffing), or whether it will be wasted on more tech products.

Ultimately, there is no real tension between the political project of the teachers union and that of the Democratic Party. Both are working toward the same outcomes. In the case of COVID-19, the desired outcome is the purchase of hardware, software, and online learning subscriptions on an enormous scale. This ploy relies on a politics of anti-solidarity in which teachers stay home on computers while risk is pushed onto lower-paid staff or contractors who lack union protection.

Woke Justifications for Academic Decline

January 2020, World Economic Forum: "The notion of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education."

January 2020, World Economic Forum: “The notion of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education.”

 

While low-income students and families struggle to adapt, many educators are willing to push rhetoric that presents virtual learning as liberation. In some cities, local union leaders, district administrators, and other organizations have entered into an endless competition to prove who is more woke and more pro-lockdown. Racialized social justice politics have created distractions that serve to rationalize and excuse the absence of public health infrastructure and other services.

In Oakland, for example, ongoing conflicts between professionals have done little to help communities in need, and disguise a de facto consensus around school closures. California’s online learning mandate was largely decided at the state level by the governor’s office. This did not stop the Oakland teachers’ union from holding a pro-closure demonstration in front of the Oakland schools superintendent’s home. The Oakland NAACP wrote a letter condemning the action for targeting the superintendent, who is a Black woman. The East Bay DSA responded in support of the union, citing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black communities.

Virtual learning is training affluent students for a life of self-directed work at home. It is training low-income students for a life of no work at all.

Around the same time, elementary school principals in Oakland wrote a letter asking middle class parents to refrain from forming independently organized educational “pandemic pods,” arguing that this would be “exacerbating educational inequities.” Meanwhile, the Oakland teachers’ union was spending valuable time in reopening negotiations demanding a Black Reparations Fund. The union proposed that Local Control Funding Formula money for foster youth, English language learners, and low-income students be redirected to new “Black Sanctuary District” programs.

The woke posturing in Oakland demonstrates a pattern of California educators and other professionals wielding their cultural power to uphold tech profits while taking for granted the profound economic inequalities caused by the COVID-19 lockdown. The major stakeholders, while supposedly at odds, all supported government frugality as a science-based safety measure. With online learning now fully in place, social justice narratives contend that staring at screens is emancipation.

Various tech initiatives like the Modern Classrooms Project allege that online learning is progressive because it allows for self-pacing. The concept of virtual self-pacing is tied to declarations that some students are “thriving” through online education. School, proponents of distance learning claim, is perhaps too long, too demanding; the standards and expectations may be too high. Distance learning, they argue, allows kids to organize their own time, regardless of whether it is developmentally appropriate or not.

Similarly, education theories such as “Abolitionist Teaching” posit that white supremacy creates trauma for Black students at school. Therefore, the fundamental structures of school must be rethought. Intellectuals and writers who characterize school as inherently racist are assisting in a union-busting project. Abolitionist theorists even call on teachers’ unions themselves to demand curriculum and personnel changes, and scheduling that adheres to anti-racist thought.

The digitization of schools is an initial step toward digitization of society as a whole. Just as the school bell schedule was designed around the factory model, so the current model of virtual learning is training affluent students for a life of self-directed work at home. It is training low-income students for a life of no work at all.

Rejecting a Lockdown Future

“The long-term effects of school closures will define a generation. Children are facing increased rates of severe abuse and a mental health catastrophe. We’ve told children that their existence is harmful and their lives are unimportant. We abandoned them and they won’t forget it.”

"Greater income inequality, increased unemployment, growing dependence on government, and more mass migrations are a few of the most pressing problems that failing to train the next generation of workers for the digitally driven economy will bring." [page 3]

“Greater income inequality, increased unemployment, growing dependence on government, and more mass migrations are a few of the most pressing problems that failing to train the next generation of workers for the digitally driven economy will bring.” [page 3]


Given this threat to the teaching profession, the CTA and local unions must divest from corporate interests that aim to dismantle labor. Bribing politicians can only get educators so far. Teachers can no longer give in to the mafia-style antics of the Democratic Party if they want to survive. Union dues should not be spent on Newsom’s reelection campaign, but on a state-wide strike fund. Charter school champions benefit when public schools lose enrollment because of systematic mismanagement. They will also benefit when the union starts hemorrhaging membership due to its corruption and negligence.Since March the American left has framed neoliberal lockdown policies as the only morally viable option for dealing with COVID-19. In doing so, they have fetishized teachers’ unions and used their labor negotiations as the prime example of worker support for lockdown. Now that the damage has been done and soaring unemployment has disempowered all workers, the left may begin to roll back its discredited justifications for lockdown. No matter what challenges arise, social services and public institutions should be non-negotiable for any socialist, populist, or pro-worker politics.

Schools are necessary for communal and individual well-being—they are just as essential as health care. In their education children do not only learn content; they also learn by example and through experience. It is our collective task to consider what message continued policies of school closure and austerity send to the younger generation. They will not forget it if we fail to develop alternatives.

[Alex Gutentag is a public school teacher in California and a former union representative. You can follow her on Twitter at @galexybrane]

WATCH: Zero Days [U.S. & Israel Attack on Iran via Cyberwarefare, 2016 Documentary]

November 28, 2020

 

 

“What does it mean to be anti-imperialist? It means supporting nations under attack by empire even when or if it is opportunistically inconvenient. It means to stand with all nations under attack, without prejudice, without wavering, and to never serve interests of empire – even if it means you sacrifice popularity or lose social media followers.”

 

Alexandra Valiente, Internationalist360

 

 

“A black ops cyber-attack launched by the U.S. and Israel on an Iranian nuclear facility unleashed malware with unforeseen consequences. The Stuxnet virus infiltrated its pre-determined target only to spread its infection outward, ultimately exposing systemic vulnerabilities that threatened the very safety of the planet. Delve deep into the burgeoning world of digital warfare in this documentary thriller from Academy Award® winning filmmaker Alex Gibney.

 

[Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by Alex Gibney are those of the filmmaker’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of WKOG. Any thoughts in the following interview contrary to WKOG’s expressed opinions are not intended to malign any region, group, country or people.]

 

DIRECTORS STATEMENT ALEX GIBNEY

What do you do when your government launches a global war and keeps it a secret?

That’s the question that haunted me when making “Zero Days,” a film about the spectre of a new generation of classified cyber weapons.

I started out making a small film investigating “Stuxnet,” the self-replicating computer virus invented by the US and Israel to infiltrate and sabotage the Iranian nuclear centrifuges at Natanz.   What I discovered was a massive clandestine operation involving the CIA, the NSA, the US military and Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad to build and launch secret cyber “bombs” that could plunge the world into a devastating series of criss-crossing attacks on critical infrastructure, shutting down electricity, poisoning water supplies and turning cars, trains and planes into deadly weapons.  Even more terrifying, this science fiction scenario, possibly resulting in the loss of millions of lives, could happen without anyone – including our own government – knowing who is responsible.

In the words of David Byrne, You may ask yourself: How did we get here?  

When I started, I knew that the Stuxnet worm (a self-replicating virus) had spread all over the world.  The secrecy of the operation was blown.  But every US official I asked about the operation either refused to talk about it or even admit that it happened.

Everyone justified their silence with claims of national security.  As Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA and the NSA, told me, a covert operation “automatically goes into the do-not-talk-about-it box.”

But Stuxnet wasn’t just another covert op.  It represented a fundamental change in the threat landscape.  For the first time in history, a computer virus crossed the threshold from the virtual reality of 1s and 0s to the physical world.  Stuxnet took control of machines and commanded them to destroy themselves.  Then the code leaked all over the world so that it could be re-purposed by other nations, criminals and terrorists.

Keeping that secret was like saying, after Hiroshima, “what bomb?”

And it reached the height of absurdity when I learned that the Department of Homeland Security triggered a high alert to protect the US from Stuxnet, since the NSA never let the other branches of government know that the weapon we launched was now attacking the homeland.  We had met the enemy and it was us.

Since government officials were trying to hide the dangers they had caused, my team and I reached out to others.  We first contacted the cyber detectives, Liam O’Murchu and Eric Chien, from the anti-virus company Symantec, who were the first ones to discover the purpose of Stuxnet.  They took apart the weapon for us so that we could understand both its delivery system and payload.

Then we traveled to Moscow – the capital of cyber crime and headquarters for Russia’s cyber weapons units – and to Israel, the key partner for the US in the development of Stuxnet.  What we discovered in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, by talking to politicians, journalists and – on background – agents for Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, was that “Stuxnet” was not a technical computer story at all.  Rather, it was part of a much larger operation which involved the Mossad, the CIA, the US military unit, Cyber Command, and included covert operations – sometimes directed at American companies, like Microsoft – the assassination of Iranian scientists, and weapons of cyber mass destruction that made “Stuxnet” look like a computer game.

Armed with this level of detail, we returned to the United States and were able to persuade some people inside the NSA and the CIA to talk to us provided we kept their identities a secret.  By now, it’s well known that the Obama Administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined.  So we had to take careful precautions to protect our sources.

We recorded interviews on audio recorders with no wifi capability, transcribed them on electric typewriters and then destroyed the data cards.  We used a system of codes to identify the sources and then integrated their testimony in a “script” that was factually accurate but which masked phrases that could lead investigators to identify our witnesses.   Then we used a system called “Depthkit,” to photograph our “essential source” via a 3-D video capture device that allowed us to break down a human face into separate fields of flesh, dots and lines.  In final post, we recombined those elements with new computer tilts and pans to portray a cyber whistleblower whose “hacked” look harmonized with the film’s animation of the actual Stuxnet code.

(Note: in the code animation sequences we only used excerpts of the Stuxnet code, which would not allow anyone reconstitute the weapon.  That said, our co-producer, Javier Botero, didn’t have much difficulty obtaining the entire code, something that makes the government secrecy about it all the more absurd.)

Our whistleblowers were able to give us an entirely new perspective on the Stuxnet operation, known inside the government as “Olympic Games,” and the new world of cyber weapons.   Among the key elements of information in “Zero Days” that have been revealed in the popular media for the first time are:

-The US, as a matter of policy, has not dedicated sufficient resources to cyber defense. Instead, it is focusing on cyber offense, and hoping that the threat of counterattack will prevent our enemies from launching cyber weapons against us.  So far, that strategy has failed.  Russia, China, Iran and North Korea have all launched limited cyber attacks against us and likely hidden thousands of backdoors to computer networks that have the potential of damaging key portions of our critical infrastructure: power grids, water filtration plants, transportation systems, heat, air conditioning, etc

-While “Olympic Games” was a joint operation between the US and Israel, each country had the ability to modify and deploy the OG cyber weapons in ways they wished. This caused animosity and tension, when the Mossad – pressured by an impatient Bibi Netanyahu – launched, without consultation with the US, a virulent version of the virus that spread all over the world.  This raises very difficult questions about the nature of our relationship with Israel.

-Following “Olympic Games,” the NSA developed far more powerful cyber weapons. One operation involving those weapons, named “Nitro Zeus” (disclosed for the first time in “Zero Days”) had the capacity to jam all of Iran’s air defenses and to shut down many of the key power grids in Iran.  As one of our sources told us, “the science fiction cyber war scenario is here.”

-Department of Defense officials in US Cyber Command showed a remarkable lack of sophistication or concern about the amount of destruction that these weapons could cause. As one source noted, when key power plants are shut down, they don’t just “pop back up.  It’s more like Humpty Dumpty…lots of people die.”  In discussing targets in Iran, State Department lawyers objected to the fact that US cyber attacks would shut down hospitals causing large numbers of fatalities.  The Department of Defense overruled those objections.

-“Olympic Games” was a CIA-led operation. For every attack, an officer from the CIA had to stand behind NSA computer operators and give them attack commands.

-When Iran, in retaliation for Stuxnet, launched a cyber attack on US banks, the US government was aware that the attacks were coming from Iran but did not counterattack because the the computers controlling the “botnet” (a network of private computers infected with malicious software)was in another country and the US State Department was concerned that a US attack might involve a friendly nation in a growing cyber conflict.  This highlights one of the dilemmas of cyber war: attribution is very difficult, raising the spectre of “false flags” and mistaken counterattacks that could lead to a cyber world war.

-The “Stuxnet” virus was autonomous. No operator commanded it to attack.  Once Stuxnet found its target inside Natanz, it was programmed to launch its attack on its own, without human intervention.  An increasing number of  cyber weapons share this characteristic.

-The secrecy over offensive cyberweapons and their capability is not only impeding democratic debate but also making us less safe. Indeed, our sources came forward because they believe that secrecy itself is putting us all at enormous, possibly existential, risk.

-The revelation of “Nitro Zeus” sheds new light on the Obama Administration’s deal with Iran on nuclear weapons. While many critics have suggested that Obama was negotiating from a position of weakness, it is likely – given “Nitro Zeus” – that he was negotiating from a position of strength, knowing that the US could virtually shut down the entire country in the event that Iran cheated on the deal.

-Our sources have confirmed that, since the launch of Stuxnet, offensive cyber operations – conducted by nation states – are an every day occurrence. (O’Muchu and Chien from Symantec have confirmed that the number of nation state attacks have increased exponentially in the last few years.) Government secrecy and the inability of the media to report on this story is the only reason we don’t know more about cyberweapons. They are being launched – by and against us – every day.

 

Alex Gibney, April 2016 – New York City

 

Presentation: Biometric Health Passports and The Panopticon

November 24, 2020

 

 

Independent researcher Alison McDowell: “In early November 2020, I presented to a group in upstate New York that has been organizing in opposition to Governor Cuomo’s proposed vaccine mandate for all residents. This talk is about the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the World Economic Forum’s “Great Reset” and how this agenda is linked to the adoption of CommonPass heath passports and the creation of a global biosecurity state to scale human capital bond markets. These markets are built on manufactured poverty and social impact investing schemes aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

 

 

 

It’s Not a Social Dilemma – It’s the Calculated Destruction of the Social [The Enclosure of Africa, Part II]

October 30, 2020

By Cory Morningstar

 

Part two of a three-part investigative series. [Part 1] [Part 3]

 

2Africa: Digital Colonization Meets White Paternalism – The Facebook Enclosure of Africa

 

“Zuckerberg’s team has another related project named 2Africa. A “mission”, as they call it… Civilians have been quite silent about it this time, but not because they don’t have an opinion. It looks like many civil society groups in the continent are financed by Facebook itself. Ironic, right? Well, it seems like the missionary-like good guys from up North are going to save the world again.”

 

August 18, 2020, “There’s a 2.0 form of colonialism happening under our very eyes”

 

 

“Facebook realizes it’s running out of room to grow in developed markets. Instead of waiting for developing countries to build adequate infrastructure for its apps, Facebook wants to help develop the infrastructure and lock users into its ecosystem.”

 

May 22, 2020, Facebook Will Bring Expanded Internet Access to Africa in $1 Billion Project

 

 

“Big Tech corporations are wreaking havoc on the Global South. There’s a crisis in the tech ecosystem, and it’s called digital colonialism.”

 

March 13, 2019, “Digital colonialism is threatening the Global South”

“Many countries will face a shrinking population. For Europe, this challenge may come sooner. The region is projected to face the highest dependency ratio—the number of people of nonworking age (over 65) compared with those of working age—by 2050. At 75 percent, this ratio is higher than for any other region… Not all populations are shrinking or getting older, though. Africa—the only region whose population is expected to grow more than 1 percent a year—will have the youngest median age, 25, by 2050.” [Source: International Monetary Fund, Finance & Development, March 2020] 

Today, four in ten people, that is, 42% of the global population, are aged under 25. Now consider that 76% of youth aged 18–24 use Facebook. [Source] “While the majority of most populations in the Global North are decreasing or flatlining, in Sub-Saharan Africa the populations are growing with nearly half of the world’s youth living in Sub-Saharan African countries.” [Source]

“As Africa meets the 4IR Fourth Industrial Revolution], its youth will be one of its most important assets”

 

August 25, 2020, World Economic Forum, How can Africa succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

According to a 2019 Pew Research Center analysis, for the first time in modern history, the planet’s human population “is expected to virtually stop growing by the end of this century, due in large part to falling global fertility rates.” [Source] In a mere ten years, by 2030, it is expected that one in five people will be African. [Source] By 2100, half of all babies born in the world – will be born in Africa. [Source]

The race to recolonize African citizens, as techlonial subjects, has begun.For decades, population has been made a convenient scapegoat for climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and expressed concerns over biodiversity and sustainability. It has gained an upsurge in popularity with New Deal For Nature influencers David Attenborough and Jane Goodall (selected by the World Economic Forum, WWF et al.) promoting this narrative (a narrative with a fixation of black and brown bodies). Although it is Western countries responsible for the absolute bulk of these emissions and ecological devastation across the globe, it has not been African groups nor black academics calling on population controls for the West. Rather, it is Western and European groups, predominantly white and male, relentlessly targeting African nations and the sovereign bodies belonging to African women. Consider that in 1900 Europe held 25% of the global population, triple that of Africa. Yet by 2050, Europe is on track to hold a mere 7% of the global population (one-third that of Africa). With white supremacy as a foundational structure of the ruling class, the feigned concern over both ecology and poverty rings hollow. The race to recolonize African citizens, as techlonial subjects, has begun.

“Up until 1950, more than half of historical CO2 emissions were emitted by Europe. The vast majority of European emissions back then were emitted by the United Kingdom; as the data shows, until 1882 more than half of the world’s cumulative emissions came from the UK alone. Over the century which followed, industrialization in the USA rapidly increased its contribution. It’s only over the past 50 years that growth in South America, Asia and Africa have increased these regions’ share of total contribution.”

A 2013 map demonstrates fourteen nations account for approximately 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. In 2019, an advance chapter of the 2019 Emissions Gap Report, released ahead of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, reported G20 member states account for almost 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. [Source] The top three greenhouse gas emitters— China (with a population of1.4 billion), the European Union and the United States contribute more than half of global greenhouse gas emissions, while the bottom 100 countries account for a mere 3.5 percent. [Source]

Bob Collymore (1958-2019), Former CEO of Safaricom and leader of The B Team

Forecasts for this year (2020) show only one non-African country – Afghanistan – placed in the top 20 countries for the highest youth populations. [Source] For these reasons, Africa has been a target of both “fourth industrial revolution” technologies (digitalized healthcare, education, identities, etc.), as well as the United Nations-World Economic Forum Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). South Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) is also recognized as a key target market. Under the guise of alleviating poverty, protecting climate and biodiversity, the SDGs are in reality, emerging markets, with their implementation driven by the World Economic Forum, partner to the United Nations. Children and youth are to become human data commodities on the blockchain. This is the foray into the machinations underpinning the new global poverty economy. The majority of climate investments earmarked in Annex 1 states in the Global North will be invested in emerging markets in the Global South – created by the West, for the West.

“Tech giants have been finding new ways of gathering data from citizens, this time with major investments in connection infrastructure in the global South.”

 

August 18, 2020, Digital Colonialism

On May 13, 2020, Facebook announced its plans to encircle the entire continent of Africa with subsea cable. At 37,000 kilometers long, the 2Africa cable will be nearly equal to the entire circumference of the Earth.

The 2Africa project, valued at approximately USD 1 billion, is considered one of the largest subsea cable projects in the world. It will interconnect 16 countries in Africa, the Middle East (via Saudi Arabia), and Europe.

“Facebook hasn’t disclosed how much money it’s contributing to the project, but it won’t be a significant percentage of its projected revenue of $78 billion this year.” [Source]

Facebook’s 2Africa partners include some of the globe’s largest telecom corporations, including: the U.K.’s Vodafone Group, France’s Orange SA, China’s Mobile, stc (Saudi Telecom), Europe’s GlobalConnect, and Africa’s West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC). The two African wireless carriers involved in the project are MTN Group (Johannesburg) and Telecom Egypt. Nokia Oyj’s Alcatel Submarine Networks has been contracted to build the cable. [Source]

“2Africa, whose aim is surrounding the whole African continent with undersea fibre-optic cables, is an infrastructural feat that in usual circumstances would be considered the exclusive domain of governments.”

 

August 17, 2020, Inside Facebook’s new power grab, From cables to internet cafes, Mark Zuckerberg is leaving his mark on the global South

According to Bloomberg, “tech giants, led by Facebook and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, are behind about 80% of the recent investment in transatlantic cable, driven by demand for fast-data transfers used for streaming movies to social messaging.” If one juxtaposes such priorities, with our dire planetary ecological crisis and unprecedented biodiversity loss, one catches a glimpse of a society in intellectual and ethical freefall. As we enter a “fourth” industrial revolution, consider that after an approximately 260 years of “progress”, 30% of the global population still has no access to clean drinking water, while approximately half the world’s population lacks access to safe sanitation. In tandem with diet, nutrition, and shelter, it is these most basic necessities that prevent disease and sickness. “An estimated 801,000 children younger than 5 years of age perish from diarrhoea each year, mostly in developing countries. This amounts to 11% of the 7.6 million deaths of children under the age of five and means that about 2,200 children are dying every day as a result of diarrheal diseases. Unsafe drinking water, inadequate availability of water for hygiene, and lack of access to sanitation together contribute to about 88% of deaths from diarrheal diseases.” As these black and brown deaths occur in the Global South, the populace of Global North remains largely and seemingly willfully blind to this normalized atrocity, while as of March 27, 2020, The Lancet reported outside of two reported deaths in China of children who tested positive for COVID-19, there were no accounts of COVID-19 deaths of children in the published literature. Since this time, fatalities in children from/with COVID-19 remain extremely rare.

Although at first glance, that COVID-19 is being prioritised over providing clean drinking water and safe sanitation must be considered insane, in fact, one must understand this as marketing: “Suggesting that the digital sphere “amplifies existing inequalities”, the UN official noted that among the most pressing challenges are tackling the lack of internet access in the world’s poorest nations – where fewer than one in five people has regular electricity.” [Source] One cannot feed their children with the internet. One cannot bathe their child in a virtual world. The concern over internet access inequality – the push for equal access for all – is nothing more than public relations and strategic marketing seeking social license. This feigned concern over inequality – is the storytelling that simultaneously conceals and drives the emerging markets. Oppression is reframed as empowerment. Data is the new oil.

Let them eat virtual cake – on their smartphones.

“‘We’ve been able to work with the local partners who are providing internet service in the most challenged areas,’ says Facebook’s Rabinovitsj. ‘Some of these places are really large slums in and around large urban centres and typically the disposable income is less than a few dollars a month for households.’ ‘We are able to, with our partners, come up with a sustainable model that provides internet access for [those] families.” [Source]

[Source: Smart Growth Is Colonialism Reinvented]

Award digital badges for “Smart Learning”. Mine the data. Feed the artificial intelligence and machine learning. Continue the theft of resources (biological communities) from the pillaged continent of Africa – that underpin the imperial “great reset”. Enslave the children via technology. Smart slavery. Smart enslavement. Smart colonialism.

“Facebook has long tried to lead the race to improve connectivity in Africa in a bid to take advantage of a young population, greater connectivity and the increasing availability and affordability of smartphones.”

 

Bloomberg, May 14, 2020, Faster Internet Coming to Africa With Facebook’s $1 Billion Cable

September 12, 2016: “NAIROBI, Kenya, “Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is in Kenya after a three-day visit in Lagos, Nigeria in his first visit to Africa. Zuckerberg is expected to meet tech entrepreneurs, developers and talk to stakeholders in the ICT industry. Zuckerberg: “Just landed in Nairobi! I’m here to meet with entrepreneurs and developers, and to learn about mobile money – where Kenya is the world leader.” [Source] [Image]

May 17, 2017: “Black Facebook users are having their accounts banned for speaking out against racism: It seems the intent behind silencing outspoken Black folks hasn’t changed in the last few hundred years. And while Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t yet sentenced me to “thirty nine lashes on [my] bare back,” I can’t say for certain that penalty isn’t hidden somewhere… I’ve lost count of how many Black organizers have had their Facebook accounts temporarily or permanently banned for posting content that even remotely challenges white supremacy.”

Facebook’s announcement of the 2Africa project followed “a long and complex restoration process of an unprecedented simultaneous cable break”. The two Atlantic Ocean based 16,000 km cable systems (connecting South Africa to the UK) occurred early in the morning on January 16, 2020. The breaks in the cables, only eight years old, took place approximately 1,964 km apart from one another – with one break occurring near Libreville, Gabon, while the second break occurred south of Gabon, in the vicinity of Luanda, Angola. [Source] This same day, an 18-year-old cable called SAT-3 that runs along the same route was also reported broken.

“It was unprecedented that two completely geographically separate cables run by completely separate companies would fail within hours of each other,”

 

— Afrihost CEO Gian Visser speaking to Business Times

The breaks, cited as catastrophic, the cause as-yet unspecified, resulted in frustrated users in over 24 sub-Saharan African countries. Upon announcing the full restoration on February 19, 2020, Openserve, the infrastructure arm of South Africa’s Telkom, charged with co-ordinating the repairs on two damaged cable lines (WACS and the SAT3/WASC) stated it would “conduct a full analysis of the unusual dual-cable break.” As a side note, in February of 2008, outages on five separate undersea cables in the Middle East were attributed to sabotage by a UN official. Such acts of sabotage are not as rare as one may think:

“What’s the least sophisticated, but probably the most foolproof, way to cut off a country’s Internet traffic? Literally cutting it by severing undersea Internet cables. That’s what the Egyptian navy caught three scuba divers doing in the waters 750 meters off the port city of Alexandria on Wednesday… The effects of the ship taking out that cable were experienced as far away as Pakistan and India…”

 

— Divers Caught Cutting Internet Backbone Cable, March 28, 2013

The cable break disruption in Africa created a well-timed segue for the 2Africa project announcement by Facebook, which otherwise may well have generated backlash: “When completed, this new route will deliver much-needed internet capacity, redundancy, and reliability across Africa; supplement a rapidly increasing demand for capacity in the Middle East; and support further growth of 4G, 5G, and broadband access for hundreds of millions of people.” [May 13, 2020] Par for the course, and leaving no stone unturned, Facebook has taken a page from its capitalist predecessors, financing any possible opposition:

“This is hardly the only reason backlash has been muted. Activists on the African continent are often battling internet shutdowns, connectivity and other issues – and also struggle to make headlines in the western media even more than their counterparts in India. And there’s an additional complication: many of the African civil society groups are themselves funded by Facebook.” [Source]

 

“They have so many projects at the moment,” van der Spuy remarks. “They’re funding so many civil society people, including people that you wouldn’t think of, and they fund them to go to conferences and things. There’s a lot of soft and hard lobbying on the continent.” — Dr Anri van der Spuy, a senior associate at Research ICT Africa, a policy and regulation think-tank [Source]

 

Smart Colonialism

 

August 21, 2020, Algorithmic Colonisation of Africa: “In the age of algorithms, this control and domination occurs not through brute physical force but rather through invisible and nuanced mechanisms such as control of digital ecosystems and infrastructure.”

“Similar to the technical architecture of classic colonialism, digital colonialism is rooted in the design of the tech ecosystem for the purposes of profit and plunder. If the railways and maritime trade routes were the “open veins” of the Global South back then, today, digital infrastructure takes on the same role: Big Tech corporations use proprietary software, corporate clouds, and centralised Internet services to spy on users, process their data, and spit back manufactured services to subjects of their data fiefdoms. ”

 

March 13, 2019, “Digital colonialism is threatening the Global South”

The 2Africa cable project is expected to be in operation by 2024. It will surpass the combined capacity of all existing sub-sea cables serving Africa.

For an idea of the massive profits to be realized from the capture of data, one only needs to look at the monetary outlay corporations are willing to place up front. The population of St. Helena, Africa is 5,000. Research suggests that approximately 60% of these 5,000 citizens will use the Internet, for a total of 3,000 Internet users. For this tiny demographic, Google will spend USD 30 million. [Source]

Fiber optic specialist and industry insider Sunil Tagare was selected by Wired magazine as one of the “Wired 25” in 1999; a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum, and is a Charter Member of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) New York. According to Tagare, Facebook’s share of the 2Africa project will amount to approximately 80 million dollars and use 10-20% of the bandwidth. This percentage of bandwidth will generate 21 billion dollars per year in revenues increasing Facebook’s market cap by USD 178 billion. [Source]

According to Tagare, 2Africa will be “the first smart cable with sensors to cross the Atlantic.” [Source]

The real prize here is not merely Facebook’s billion dollar revenues and growing global dominance. Rather, it is the infrastructure that underpins the further expansion of both 5G, that is, the fifth generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks (rolling out now with virtually no dissent) and 6G (foreseen for 2030). 5G networks underpin the global expansion of Internet of Things, big data, artificial intelligence, biometrics, global digitalization, digital identification, autonomous lethal weapons, cyber security, an automated global workforce, etc. At 10 gigabits per second, theoretically, 5G is said to be up to one hundred times more powerful than the current 4G technology. 6G is expected to support 1 terabyte per second speeds. This level of capacity and latency will be unprecedented, extending the capabilities of 5G applications. [Source]

Whereas US and China corporations own the platforms, Europe, China and South Korea, lead on 5G. Those that control 5G will control all the infrastructure upon which 5G technology is based. Together, China (#1), the US (#2), and the EU (#3) represent the three largest economies in the world (although the order in which they reign is sometimes contested). The three combined represented 48% of the world economy.

On June 28, 2019, Google announced “Equiano”, its new private subsea cable that will connect Africa with Europe. [Source] Named after Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian-born writer and abolitionist who was enslaved as a child, today’s woke slavery for children is to be repackaged with digital badges earned for their very own, unique, digital passport. Perhaps such appropriation and irony is even too rich for Facebook. Consider the 2Africa project was originally named “Simba” named after the Lion King character. (After initial involvement, Google left the Simba consortium.) The first phase of Google’s Equiano project, connecting South Africa with Portugal, is expected to be completed in 2021. Between 2016 and 2018, Google invested USD 47 billion in capital expenditures, which includes the billions being invested in further expanding its global infrastructure.

“As Facebook’s core product (social) starts seeing a significant downward trend and is certainly a non-starter with the millennials, it will increasingly have to depend on other verticals which will compete with Google.” [Source]

African Telecom providers have warned that the Facebook and Google projects threaten the survival of the local and mainstream operators:

“Virtual operators like Facebook are organisations that mainstream operators have to watch out for because a number of services they render today are free of charge. Their revenue is mostly from advertisement. They don’t have tax obligations; they don’t have any obligation like the conventional licensee have to the government.”

 

June 8, 2020, Telcos Threatened As Facebook, Google Plan Subsea Cable

 

“Silicon Valley corporations are taking over the digital economy in the Global South, and nobody is paying attention. In South Africa, Google and Facebook dominate the online advertising industry, and are considered an existential threat to local media.”

 

March 13, 2019, “Digital colonialism is threatening the Global South”

 

Facebook’s “Internet.org” – Rebranded to “Free Basics”

 

“Most importantly, for Free Basics users, Facebook becomes the homepage of the Internet. Free Basics builds brand loyalty among users. It contributes to Facebook’s dominant position in emerging markets with tremendous demographic growth.”

 

Inside Facebook’s new power grab, From cables to internet cafes, Mark Zuckerberg is leaving his mark on the global South, August 17, 2020

Free Basics homepage

 In partnership with Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Opera Software, Nokia and Qualcomm, Facebook launched Internet.org in 2013:

“Basic data-light web services would be available through a free app, owned and curated by Facebook. By marketing its new product as ‘the internet’, Facebook could make itself the centre of their online world. There was no email provision, no Google services, no other social media platforms – and often no content in that country’s native tongue. In effect, Facebook was offering a heavily censored version of the American internet, accessed through a Facebook app which directed everything back to its own services.” [Source]

In 2014, Internet.org launched the ‘Internet.org app’ in four African countries. Users could access 13 websites without data charge, including Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, and a Johnson & Johnson-sponsored maternal health site.

On February 10, 2015, Internet.org announced the upcoming launch of its app in six Indian states. Following intense backlash (*”Facebook was acting as a gatekeeper of the Internet by pre-selecting services available on Internet.org, without transparency and with a Western bias detrimental to local services and start-ups”) the business venture was rebranded to “Free Basics” in September 2015, prior to a nationwide roll-out. [*Source]

 

“Based on current figures provided by Facebook, some 2.99 billion people currently use at least one of Facebook’s apps every month. The population of the entire world is, according to Worldometer, around 7.8 billion, so when you take into account the aforementioned stat that 3.5 billion can’t access the web, and add to that the fact that 1.4b Chinese citizens are technically unable to use Facebook due to government restrictions, Facebook’s apps, based on these calculations, are used by pretty much everybody who’s able to access them, in some form.  Given this, you can see why Facebook’s keen to maximize its presence in India, and its reach among that nation’s 1.4 billion people.” [Source]

In February 2016, regulators banned Facebook’s Free Basics service in India. In nationwide protests, citizens argued that Free Basics expanded Facebook’s monopoly power while simultaneously subjecting users to both censorship and surveillance. This was a massive blow to Facebook. With a population of 1.4 billion citizens, India represented Facebook’s largest target market. Since this time, Facebook quietly rolled out a new initiative into India and other targeted demographics with Wi-Fi hotspots, called Express Wi-Fi. This initiative gives retailers the option to offer its users open access to Free Basics. In effect, Free Basics was re-routed through Express Wi-Fi.

“In 2015 researchers found that 65% of Nigerians, and 61% of Indonesians agree with the statement that “Facebook is the Internet” compared with only 5% in the US.” [Source]

On November 3, 2016, Facebook announced 40 million people were using internet.org. Despite the February 2016 ban of Free Basics in India, Facebook quietly continues its monolithic expansion, relatively free of scrutiny, into most developing countries, including India, while Free Basics is proliferating in dozens of countries. [Source: March 13, 2019, Digital colonialism is threatening the Global South] To successfully enable the Free Basics expansion into Africa, Facebook ceased to publicize its Free Basics pursuits, and instead focused on engagement with and financing of “civil society”(NGOs). This was largely accomplished via the Praekelt Foundation – funded by heavy hitters including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Omidyar Network, Johnson & Johnson, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Ford Foundation, the United Nations Population Fund, and USAID. As of June 2019, it was reported that Free Basics was present in 65 countries with a large part of the expansion saturating African countries, which went largely unnoticed, unreported and uncontested. [Source]

As of July 2020, there are over 290 million Facebook users in India, with a population closing in on the 1.4 billion mark.

Graph: Leading countries based on Facebook audience size as of July 2020 (in millions) Source: Statista

“I argue that Free Basics’ quiet expansion across Africa was notably made possible by the combination of two key interrelated phenomena: (1) Facebook’s evolving strategy, particularly its growing engagement with civil society organizations and (2) the focus of digital rights activists across the continent on other issues, including Internet shutdowns, government censorship, and the lack of data privacy frameworks.”

 

Access granted: Facebook’s free basics in Africa, April 22, 2020

Graph: “Number of news stories about ‘Free Basics’ and ‘Internet.org‘ across 1,500 Global English Language sources, June 2013 to July 2019″ [Source

“Free Basics also fits within two broader and interrelated trends in the digital industry, digital experiments on marginalized populations and data extraction. There is increasing evidence that vulnerable and disadvantaged populations, such as minority groups, refugees, and impoverished communities are prime, albeit largely nonconsenting subjects of digital experiments – be they designed to ‘help’ or surveil these communities (Latonero and Kift, 2018; Madianou, 2019; Mann and Daly, 2018). Data extraction, for its part, is central to the digital economy (Zuboff, 2019). It is key to building unique, rich datasets that train competitive algorithms, which are then generally used to connect businesses to customers.”

 

Access granted: Facebook’s free basics in Africa, April 22, 2020

 

“Anti-Colonialism has been economically catastrophic for India for decades. Why stop now?”

 

Facebook board member Marc Andreessen, February, 2016

Looking back momentarily, in 2015, Facebook announced that internet.org was operating in 11 countries, allowing about one billion people to access its services for free. [Source] On April 25, 2018, Mark Zuckerberg would clarify the actual number of users. In response to Facebook’s Q1 2018 earnings call Zuckerberg stated: “our Internet.org efforts have helped almost 100 million people get access to the internet who may not have had it otherwise”. [Source] This was up from 40 million users in November 2016, a 60 million increase in users in approximately 16 months.

Facebook’s capture of India has barely begun. In 2019, Facebook acquired the Indian eCommerce platform Meesho. Facebook also seeks to roll out its cryptocurrency – initially focused on funds transfers in the Indian market – in the coming months. Globalcoin is the new cryptocurrency “Libra” founded by Facebook, in conjunction with “Novi”, a digital wallet. “While Libra itself is a cryptocurrency that can be used to make purchases or gain access to services through Facebook, Calibra is the wallet that will be used to store Libra and whatever other forms of crypto the user may have, only this time, the wallet will no longer be known as Calibra, but as Novi… As part of the verification process, customers of Libra and Facebook will be required to upload a government-issued identification card.” [Bitcoin News, June 1, 2020] [Forbes, August 17, 2021: “Between Crypto, Libra, Stablecoins, And Digital Dollars, Congress Introduced 35 ‘Blockchain’ Bills’]

April 22, 2020: “If you wanted to know how much value Facebook sees in the emerging Indian market, this deal certainly provides some indication. After recent reports that Facebook was looking to acquire a stake in Indian internet provider Jio, The Social Network has now confirmed that it has purchased a majority stake in the Reliance-owned venture for a massive $US5.7 billion… the acquisition will provide Facebook with a new way into the Indian market, which it’s been looking to gain a foothold in for many years, with varying levels of success.” [Source]

 

India, and its 1.4 billion citizens, is the next key battleground for the tech giants, with both Facebook and Google both working to gain a foothold in the Indian market in order to expand their audience base, provide new business tools, and build revenue-generating partnerships that will facilitate significant opportunities to expand their respective empires… India is now the world’s second-largest smartphone market after China, while the number of internet users in the nation is expected to top 850 million by 2022. For comparison, the US is expected to reach around 300 million internet users at the same stage.” [Source]

September 6, 2017 video: “Facebook creates digital map showing where every human lives”:

 

The Colonization of Space & Skies

With Facebook’s growth slowing in the West, the corporation must diversify. August 17, 2020: “Today, the internet is estimated to have around four billion users. More than two billion of them use Facebook products. But growth is slowing, and the social network has its eyes firmly set on the three billion people without a connection as their hope for the future.” [Source]

On September 1, 2016, a SpaceX rocket exploded prior to its scheduled launch. Facebook had contracted SpaceX to deliver the first Internet.org satellite into orbit, in order to secure new internet customers in large portions of sub-Saharan Africa. This would be key in providing basic connectivity via Internet.org, to the entire world’s population. [Source] The Amos6 satellite was built by Israeli communications firm Spacecom Ltd., while owned and operated by Eutelsat, France.

In May 2019, the IEEE Spectrum reported that Facebook had established a subsidiary called PointView Tech, to develop “low-Earth-orbit satellites” under the codename Athena.

On February 12, 2020, Business Insider reported that Facebook was going forward with its plan to build a constellation of thousands of satellites with the first one launching into space in March 2020.

Last month, on September 3, 2020, Facebook launched its first satellite into orbit. A rocket encompassing “700,000 pounds of thrust” (made possible only with massive quantities of fossil fuels), successfully launched over French Guiana:

“The first satellite released into a 320-mile-high (515-kilometer) orbit by the Vega’s AVUM upper stage was Athena, a 304-pound (138-kilogram) spacecraft built by Maxar in California. Athena is a small experimental communications satellite for PointView Tech, a subsidiary of Facebook, that will test technologies that could be used in a future constellation of small satellites to provide global broadband Internet services. Athena is PointView Tech’s first satellite.”

 

September 3, 2030, Vega rocket deploys 53 satellites on successful return to flight mission, Spaceflight Now

September 3, 2020: Facebook launched its first satellite into orbit

At present, with approximately 2.7 – 3 billion users (stats differ), Facebook is closing in on almost half of the global population. Barriers include no access to China, with a population of approximately 1.4 billion citizens;  India, due to the fact that fewer than 20% of India’s citizens, in a population on par with China, have access to the Internet; and sovereign states that ban Facebook, recognizing that it serves as an instrument to empire for foreign interference and destabilization. Such targeted geopolitical hotspots include the sovereign nations of China, Iran, Syria, and North Korea (the majority of North Korean citizens do not access the Internet). This is in line with the threat of foreign and Western NGOs that serve Western foreign policy and capital. Consider Access Now, an arm of Avaaz (which led a leading role in the annihilation of Libya, as well as the attempted destruction of Syria), was created with the specific intent to destabilize Iran. [Link] (One can be certain that if Middle Eastern countries were attempting to overthrow Western states, with social media serving as a key apparatus, controlled by NGOs serving Iran, North Korea, Syria, etc. – social media would be blocked in our countries as well.)

Thus, to reach the global populace that remain off-limits, and to secure the foundation and expansion of 5G, that the “fourth industrial revolution” architecture is absolutely dependent upon, the race for satellites in space has begun. Although completely asinine, human centric and short-sighted, approximately 57,000 satellites are to be launched into space in this single decade. [This is explored in further detail later in this report.]

In tandem with industry’s servitude to planned obsolescence, coupled with the rapid acceleration of technology, satellites will eventually be far more important than subsea cables. In the not-so-distant future, (possibly the 6G era) sea cables may become altogether obsolete.

Next: Part III

 

It’s Not a Social Dilemma – It’s the Calculated Destruction of the Social [Part I]

It’s Not a Social Dilemma – It’s the Calculated Destruction of the Social [Part I]

October 28, 2020

By Cory Morningstar

 

Part one of a three-part investigative series. [Part 2] [Part 3]

 

Introduction by Michael Swifte, WKOG collective:

 

“The ruling class, with full knowledge of the technocratic plans being implemented, have fashioned a false narrative of our unpleasant choices in living with ever expanding digital ‘social’ networks and the force that is exercised by those who control the ‘social’. Klaus Schwab sits at the refashioned locus of globalist power, the helm at which the captains of stakeholder capitalism command and refashion the consumer economy, accelerated under lockdowns, amplified by the control and manipulation of data and the production of fear. Here Cory Morningstar in her usual richly detailed fashion illustrates the extensive networks and interrogates the heavily constructed statements that signify the growing political will for the management of global populations under the banner of the ‘great reset’ and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Imagine the feeling of the strands of a fishing net being pulled ever more tightly against your skin. Now imagine that there is only one way for you and the shoal of which you are a part to escape. Morningstar shows that technology will not deliver efficiencies or reduce consumption, but rather, like highways that continue to widen, they will only bring further destruction and demand on resources.”

 

 

The Social Dilemma Documentary

Released by Netflix on September 9, 2020, the documentary “The Social Dilemma” was, in extremely short order, trending on the streaming platform. The Social Dilemma became a social contagion, highlighted by media outlets across the spectrum, including Forbes. On September 18, 2020, The Independent praised the film as “the most important documentary of our times”. On October 21, 2020, it was reported that 38 million Netflix subscribers had viewed the film.

Other words for dilemma include “predicament”, “quandary”, “plight”, “bind” and “embarrassment”.

The film is described by Netflix as a “documentarydrama hybrid explor[ing] the dangerous human impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations.” Yet, in today’s world of foundation-funded film and media, what is not disclosed, is more often than not, far more important than what is. Such is the case with The Social Dilemma.

“A compilation of interviews, interspersed with a fictional film, this documentary is not as effective as it wanted to be, and definitely not as informative as it should be.”

 

Sept 9, 2020, The Social Dilemma On Netflix Review: Doesn’t Say More Than You Already, Probably, Know On Addiction, Social Media, And Civil War

With capitalism destroying the planet, the false premise of “stakeholder capitalism” has been rolled out via media channels in order to permeate the public psyche. This can be more aptly described as a rebranding, marketing strategy. The goal being for the corporatocracy, insulated by the ruling class, to retain the social licence required, to continue their plunder of the planet. With the Fourth Industrial Revolution unleashed against a “growing public backlash against technology“, recognized as both a threat and hurdle by the World Economic Forum (January 16, 2018), one must contemplate if The Social Dilemma is to inhumane technology what “stakeholder capitalism” is to inhumane capitalism. An assurance of protection against harm that cannot be negotiated – in order to mitigate concern and quell dissent. In order to build and maintain the acquiescence of the global citizenry. And the answer to such contemplation, is – yes.

Let’s begin.

 

Center for Humane Technology, formerly called “Time Well Spent”

“Never before has a small sector had so much power over the entire World, to monitor the present and predict future behaviours of not just individuals, but entire populations. The problem is more alarming when we consider how the public and private sectors are merging in joint ventures in a quest for global domination, penetrating every government, every citizen movement, mediating every action in every connected person’s life through digital devices and data collection.”

 

July, 2018, Defining the problem: digital colonialism and technological feuds

Consider the documentary’s protagonist and driving force Tristan Harris, who made Fortune’s 40 Under 40 list in 2018. In November 2011, Google acquired the Apture start-up founded by Harris for an undisclosed amount thought to be between 10-20 million USD. At this same time, Harris took the position of project manager at Google. In April 2013, Google would assign Harris the new title of “Design Ethicist & Product Philosopher.” In 2013, while working for Google (Harris would work for Google from November 2011 to January 2016), Harris and Aza Raskin (interface designer and entrepreneur, Forbes 30 Under 30, 2012), co-founded “Time Well Spent”, a term coined by Harris with social scientist Joe Edelman. James Williams and filmmaker Max Stossel (named by Forbes as one of the best storytellers of the year, 2016), are also co-founders of Time Well Spent. Stossel’s clients include Caterpillar, a gross violator of human rights, for its #TogetherStronger campaign, and National Geographic (a leading entity in the charge to monetize the planet’s “ecosystem services”). Prior to co-founding the Time Well Spent campaign, Williams worked at Google for over a decade, receiving the Founder’s Award, the corporation’s highest honour, for his work on search advertising and tools. Following the founding of Time Well Spent, on December 1, 2014 Harris would deliver a talk at TED Brussels.

“Harris hopes that companies will offer a healthier alternative to the current diet of tech junk food—perhaps at a premium price.”

 

— The Atlantic, November 2016 issue

On July 26, 2017, Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief at *WIRED, would publish an interview with Harris discussing Time Well Spent. This same day, *TED media would simultaneously release a TED talk by Harris recorded in April, 2017. Also in 2017, (April 7), Thrive Global, launched five months prior by media mogul Arianna Huffington, would publish its first two Time Well Spent articles on its website, authored by Harris. This same day, Thrive Global would announce the upcoming appearance of Harris, on 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper which took place on April 9, 2017.

[*Here we can add that Peter Schwartz, scenario mastermind for Rockefeller, Shell, World Economic Forum, U.S. Secretary of Defense, etc., serving as Senior Vice President Strategic Planning for Salesforce, invested in Wired at its inception. Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of Salesforce serves as a member of the World Economic Forum Board of Trustees, and the inaugural Chair of World Economic Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco. TED is owned and curated by Chris Anderson, spouse of Jacqueline Novogratz, named by Forbes as one of “100 Greatest Living Business Minds” in 2017, founder and CEO of Acumen investments, and a pioneer of social impact investing.]

“Harris hopes to create a Time Well Spent certification—akin to the leed seal or an organic label—that would designate software made with those values in mind.”

 

The Atlantic, November 2016 issue

 

“For many entrepreneurs, this epiphany has come with age, children, and the peace of mind of having several million in the bank.”

 

Soren Gordhamer, founder of Wisdom 2.0

 

January 25, 2018, Davos, “Future Shocks: Rogue Technology in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”: “Nicholas Thompson, Editor-in-Chief, Wired Magazine; Marcus Souza, Secretary of Innovation and New Business, Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Service of Brazil; Feng Zhang, James and Patricia Poitras Professor in Neuroscience, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Mary Cummings, Director, Humans and Autonomy Lab (HAL), Duke University; Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO, Salesforce; Peter Thomson, United Nations Special Envoy for the Ocean” [Source: Salesforce]

January 26, 2016, Tristan Harris, Thrive Global, on Medium. On April 7, 2017, Thrive Global, launched five months prior by media mogul Arianna Huffington, would publish its first two Time Well Spent articles on its website, authored by Harris.

January 26, 2016, Tristan Harris, Thrive Global, on Medium. On April 7, 2017, Thrive Global, launched five months prior by media mogul Arianna Huffington, would publish its first two Time Well Spent articles on its website, authored by Harris.

 

April 9, 2017, Arianna Huffinton on Twitter

April 9, 2017, Arianna Huffinton on Twitter

 

July 28, 2017, Ruslan Tovbulatov citing Thrive partnership with Harris.

July 28, 2017, Ruslan Tovbulatov citing Thrive partnership with Harris.

 

Rusian Tovbulatov, Chief Marketing Officer, Thrive Global, July 28, 2017

Rusian Tovbulatov, Chief Marketing Officer, Thrive Global, July 28, 2017

 

The simultaneous TED and WIRED media coverage would amplify the increasing exposure, catapulting Harris – along with the “Time Well Spent movement” into the spotlight. Approximately six months later, on February 4, 2018, Time Well Spent was renamed the Center for Humane Technology (CHT). (The Time Well Spent Twitter account has remained inactive since February 12, 2018.)

Time Well Spent Twitter account, 2014-2018

Time Well Spent Twitter account, 2014-2018

 

Time Well Spent marketing under Tristan Harris

Time Well Spent marketing under Tristan Harris

 

On May 23, 2018, Harris attended the Tech for Good summit in Paris, at the invitation of President Macron. On May 15, 2019, Harris would attend the second Tech for Good summit. Following the very white ensemble of industry leaders and heads of states, just days later, on May 18, 2019, the Yellow Vests anti-government protests across France would commence for the 27th week in a row. Fully demonstrating his aspirations for the good and well-being of citizens, Macron’s riot police would use tear gas and violence to disperse the crowds. [“According to the French Mediapart website, 11 people were killed, five lost their hands due to use of grenades and 23 lost their eyesight. Some 2,000 people were injured at the demonstrations. Of them 268 people suffered head injuries, 15 hand injuries, 64 body injuries, 26 back injuries and 106 leg injuries.”][Source]

The 2020 Tech for Good Summit, organized by Roar Media, will take place on December 3, 2020, in London.

Tech For Good Summit, 2018. Facing Macron, front and centre is Rwandan President and war criminal Paul Kagame. Tristan Harris is in the third row, far left. Source: Présidence de la République française, Tech For Good Summit 2020 Progress Report

“New technology is always disruptive. It kills jobs, creates new ones, and ushers in profound social change. But the breakneck speed and sheer scale of this round of technical change is something else – it threatens the very definition of what it is to be human. We’re being presented with a huge range of ethical dilemmas. How do we get together to agree the rules on things like genetically modified babies, the robots of war, and the algorithms that determine our life chances?”

 

Tech For Good, World Economic Forum website

The Digital Africa initiative was launched by Macron in 2018. [Source] In September 2020, the European Union pressed to push back the elections in socialist Venezuela. This is what colonialism and imperialism look like. Imagine the reaction to a Digital France Initiative – launched by the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani. Imagine the reaction if Venezuela were to demand the European Union push back elections, to meet conditions for the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) which would send an observer mission. Yet, the racism that undermines the foundations of a Western society built on white supremacy does not allow for such thoughts.

Here we can add that The Social Dilemma filmmakers have formed a partnership with imperialist NGO Amnesty International. Amnesty International serves as partner to the World Economic Forum “Civil Society in the Fourth Industrial Revolution Initiative.” [Source] In 2011, Amnesty played a leading role in the annihilation of Libya. Avaaz, another instrument of empire, belonging to the non-profit industrial complex, would also play a leading role. Avaaz and *Purpose, serving many of the most powerful corporations and institutions on the planet, create emotive campaigns for climate change, while serving as instruments for war and occupation on targeted sovereign states. The irony that the military is a key driver of both climate change and ecological devastation is seemingly lost on the collective Western citizenry. [*Purpose is the public relations arm of Avaaz, specializing in “public mobilization and storytelling… that can shift policies and change public narratives.”]

"Amnesty has partnered with the filmmakers", Amnesty New Zealand Twitter account

“Amnesty has partnered with the filmmakers”, Amnesty New Zealand Twitter account

 

Center For Humane Technology & Avaaz: "fixing the attention economy"

Center For Humane Technology & Avaaz: “fixing the attention economy”

 

Tristan Harris at the World Economic Forum annual meeting, January 27, 2020

Tristan Harris at the World Economic Forum annual meeting, January 27, 2020

 

With markets in the Global North relatively saturated (with citizenry and state both inundated with debt), the world’s most powerful institutions, amidst a global consolidation of power are seeking to recolonize the Global South. “Tech for Good” is the exponential “scaling up of social transformation in the fourth industrial revolution“, transforming Africa into data colonies that serve the West. Transforming children, people, and all life into data commodities – a new asset class. This is a global behavioural change project, unprecedented in scale, with civil society groups and groomed influencers, having been tasked with replacing societal backlash with social licence.

“Business leaders must think and act differently to find their place in these new digital ecosystems that are creating markets where none currently exist—indeed, innovators put themselves in position to capture part of a $12 trillion market opportunity by 2030”

 

Accenture, [“Accenture has partnered with the World Economic Forum  on researching Globalization 4.0, which is being driven by the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, Source]

On May 29, 2019, co-founder of Time Well Spent/Center for Humane Technology, Aza Raskin, became co-chair of the newly established Global Artificial Intelligence Council of the World Economic Forum. This council would represent one of six Global Fourth Industrial Revolution Councils. [May 29, 2019: World Economic Forum Inaugurates Global Councils to Restore Trust in Technology  – “Top decision-makers and experts from the public and private sectors, civil society and academia participate in inaugural Global Fourth Industrial Revolution Council meeting in San Francisco… Five of the G7 countries and more than 100 organisations are officially partnered with the Network to create policy frameworks, pilot them and scale up around the world.”]

“As the capabilities of AI-driven systems have grown beyond automating boring or repetitive tasks, to making decisions that directly impact people’s lives, the fact that many of these systems are still “black-box” leaves people skeptical about the fairness and effectiveness of the algorithms. This deadlock must be broken, or the progress of the last 20 years will grind to a halt.”

 

Technology Vision 2020 | We, the Post-Digital People, Accenture, Civil Society in the Fourth Industrial Revolution Initiative partner

Time Well Spent/Center for Humane Technology identifies its purpose as “a movement to align technology with our humanity”. Yet, its answer to the inhumanity of tech is to be found in market solutions, within the capitalist framework, which can neither be tamed, nor negotiated. For it itself, is inhumane.

“Time Well Spent” – in Partnership with Thrive Global

Time Well Spent merges with Thrive Global

Time Well Spent merges with Thrive Global

“Thrive Global Is Leading Through The New Normal and Beyond”

 

Thrive Global Website

Those serving capital are well-versed in utilizing framing, emotive imagery, and language as a means to entice a citizenry. Key words being utilized at present, to usher in the full digitalization of the global economy include ‘thrive’, ‘thriving’, ‘reset’, ‘imagine’, ‘imagination’, and ‘build back better‘.

Arianna Huffington

Time Well Spent, marketed as a “movement”, operates in conjunction with Thrive Global. Founded by Arianna Huffington and launched on November 30, 2016, Thrive Global is a behavioural change media and technology venture headquartered in New York with offices in San Francisco, Mumbai, Athens and Melbourne. Thrive Global partnerships include Accenture, JPMorgan Chase and Uber. Huffington serves on many boards including Uber, Global Citizen, and Onex, a private equity firm managing USD 36 billion in assets. Thrive Global investors include founder and CEO of Salesforce, Marc Benioff, World Economic Forum Board of Trustees, inaugural Chair of World Economic Forum’s Forum Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco, Jack Ma, founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group,  member of the Board of Trustees, World Economic Forum, World Economic Forum Global Shapers board of directors, Breakthrough Energy Coalition co-founder (with Bill Gates), and the venture firm IVP (“We don’t just know growth; we drive hypergrowth.”) Thrive Global would target an elite bourgeoisie demographic serving as a promotional-marketing platform for venture philanthropy and social impact investing.

“I visited Thrive Global’s pop-up on Broome today. Just beautiful… People are searching for more balance—myself included. That nap room was TO DIE FOR. Shaggy, snuggly, sensational to the senses… I sat on the lower level with a dear friend, in the gray egg chairs for nearly an hour—sipped tea and connected. We so enjoyed it amidst the pressure of Christmas shopping and end of year work demands. I loved hearing your soothing voice and lovely accent coming from the speaker: ‘good night Instagram.'”

 

My Trip To The Thrive Global Pop Up Store, A note from Megan Meany, SAP TV Global Anchor, to Arianna Huffington, December 26, 2016

Par for the course, Indigenous peoples are exploited for the marketing component of Thrive, while in real life Thrive protects and expands the very system responsible for Indigenous genocide that continues to this day. In addition, with Black Lives Matter serving as the new corporate anthem to assist in marketing an illusory “stakeholder capitalism”, images of Black Lives Matter protests also feature on the homepage.

On January 21, 2017, Arianna Huffington “stopped by Thrive’s partner Accenture’s lounge for a conversation on training the workforce of the future and humanising the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution'”. Joining Huffington was the chief leadership and human resources officer of Accenture, partner to the World Economic Forum “Civil Society in the Fourth Industrial Revolution Initiative, and the CEO of Manpower Group, Jonas Prising. The discussion was moderated by Fortune’s editor-in-chief. [Source]

Thrive Global published its first Time Well Spent article on May 10, 2017. The original Time Well Spent Twitter account has been inactive since February 12, 2018.

On November 29, 2017, Business Wire (owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway) reported that Thrive Global raised USD 30 million “in a series B funding to scale its behavior change corporate and media platform around the world.” The drive was led by IVP, a venture capital and growth equity firm, with Marc Benioff joining the round funding “to dramatically accelerate tech and product growth”.

Salesforce partnership with Thrive Global.

Salesforce partnership with Thrive Global.

 

Thrive Global Clients

Thrive Global Clients

 

On October 16, 2019, Thrive Global acquired “Boundless Mind”, a neuroscience-based artificial intelligence corporation to power productivity behaviour change. “Led by a team of Neuroscience PhDs, Behavioral Scientists, and AI Experts, Boundless Mind combines decades of experience at the intersection of brains, minds, and machines.”

 

All Roads Lead to Further Plunder – the Fourth Industrial Revolution “Great Reset”

 

UNICEF (UN), OHCHR (UN) & World Food Programme (UN) were the first international organizations to join the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network. Initial corporate partners include Amazon, Cognite, Deloitte, Guardian Life, JD.com, Vara Tech, Netflix and Visa.

UNICEF (UN), OHCHR (UN) & World Food Programme (UN) were the first international organizations to join the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network. Initial corporate partners include Amazon, Cognite, Deloitte, Guardian Life, JD.com, Vara Tech, Netflix and Visa.

 

It is critical at this juncture, to expand upon the pivotal role of Thrive Global investor Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of Salesforce, which is a partner of Thrive Global. Benioff, a member of the World Economic Forum Board of Trustees, serves as inaugural Chair of World Economic Forum’s Forum Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco – home of the “great reset”. In addition to these roles, Benioff is a co-founder of Breakthrough Energy Coalition (nuclear, carbon capture and storage, biofuel, etc.), with billionaires including Bill Gates, Jack Ma, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Chris Hohn. [Full list] The coalition, led by Gates, is a private partnership created in tandem with the public-facing Mission Innovation, which is partnered with 24 states and the European Union. Mission Innovation is partnered with the World Economic Forum.

On September 17, 2018, Benioff purchased TIME magazine from Meredith Corp for $190m in cash. Such ownership offers many perks, specifically, shaping both public perception and public opinion. September 21, 2018: “Today, an increasing number of owners hail from the tech industry. Over the past few years, new entrants include Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of Amazon, who bought The Washington Post for $250m; biotech entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong who purchased the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune for $500m; Jack Ma, founder of Chinese tech group Alibaba, who bought the South China Morning Post for $266m; and, in July last year, Laurene Powell Jobs, the philanthropist and widow of Apple’s founder Steve Jobs, who took a majority stake in The Atlantic magazine.”

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country… We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of… In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.

 

— Edward Bernays, Propaganda

 

October 2020, TIME, The Great Reset Issue: "The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a unique opportunity to think about the kind of future we want."

October 2020, TIME, The Great Reset Issue: “The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a unique opportunity to think about the kind of future we want.”

 

“Any account of celebrities must be predicated on the recognition that ‘the interests served are first of all those of capital.’” — Celebrity Culture, 2006 citing Graeme Turner

“Any account of celebrities must be predicated on the recognition that ‘the interests served are first of all those of capital.’” — Celebrity Culture, 2006 citing Graeme Turner

“Prince” Harry and super influencer Meghan Markle [May 9, 2020, Town & Country: “Meghan Markle Is Poised to Become the Most Prominent Influencer in the World”] Brother of “Prince” Harry, “Prince” William, is assisting in building public support for the financialization and enclosure of nature, under the guise of protecting biodiversity. October 2020, “A Bloody-Green Conservation Effort,The reds and greens of the Kaziranga violence – These are the headlines that ran in 2016 when the royal couple visited the highly militarised Kaziranga National Park. During his visit, Prince William enquired about the challenges officials faced in the anti-poaching efforts, and here’s the stinger – he also enquired about the park’s requirements of sophisticated weaponry.” [Source]

“Credible celebrity endorsers can be deadly efficient in cutting into the toughest markets and combating the fiercest consumer resistance.”

 

—Celebrity Culture, 2006

World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab, photographed in Geneva Mark Peckmezian for TIME. This special issue for Davos 2019 was produced in partnership with the World Economic Forum. 

TIME Next Generation Leaders, May 16, 2019. “The Future We Choose” – is in fact, the future they chose long ago. Manufactured movements serve those behind the new global architecture. The youth have been utilized and mobilized to capture, monetize, privatize and digitalize, the earth beneath their feet.

TIME Person of the Year, December 2019. Greta Thunberg photographed on the shore in Lisbon, Portugal, December 4, 2019. “But the needle is moving. Fortune 500 companies, facing major pressure to reduce their emissions, are realizing that sustainability makes for good PR.” Photograph by Evgenia Arbugaeva for TIME.

TIME: Davos 2020, Next Generation World

In addition to assigning monetary value to all nature, human and social “capital”, yet another new horror is unfolding, away from public view and oversight. The nefarious Fourth Industrial Revolution architecture designed and sought by Benioff, Schwab et al., will demand more minerals and rare Earth minerals than what remain on the planet’s fragile and exhausted terrain. Thus, they intend to mine the oceans under guise of watchdog. Holistic linguistics such as ‘safe’ and ‘responsible’ are employed. Benioff has created his own NGO, the Benioff Ocean Initiative, in addition to appointing himself as watchdog over the new rapacious industry.

 

January 2020: The Benioff Ocean Initiative and The Coca-Cola Foundation Announce $11 Million in Funding. Pennies for greenwashing the massive waste they produce.

January 2020: The Benioff Ocean Initiative and The Coca-Cola Foundation Announce $11 Million in Funding. Pennies for greenwashing the massive waste they produce.

 

Image

“Friends of Ocean Action” is financed by Benioff as part of the Benioff Ocean Initiative. It is convened by the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with the World Resources Institute. Members include Marco Lambertini, WWF lead for the financialization of nature, José Figueres, and billionaire Richard Branson.

Image

“Since the 1970’s as many as 90% of the species discovered by researchers in the Clarion Clipperton seabed mining zone were previously unknown to science.”

 

“We cannot responsibly assess the impacts of deep sea mining until we understand what species are present in a mining claim area, “how globally unique or rare these species are…”

It’s not for Benioff et al. to decide what life has value and what life does not. Ecosystems are not ‘assets’. Biological communities exist for their own purposes, not ours.

The United Nations International Seabed Authority has granted over 1 million square kilometers of claims for mining exploration in the high seas of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans to at least 16 countries. In June 2019, the World Economic Forum partnered with the United Nations. The World Economic Forum presides over the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, which must be understood and recognized as emerging markets. The sought plunder of the Earth’s oceans contributes to ten of the seventeen “sustainable development” goals.

To plunder the planet’s oceans, under the guise of climate emergency and protecting biodiversity, is beyond the pale.

Benioff, September 9, 2020: "Everyone must watch this." Twitter.

Benioff, September 9, 2020: “Everyone must watch this.” Twitter.

 

Harris quoting Benioff, May 16, 2018: "Time for common sense regulation".

Harris quoting Benioff, May 16, 2018: “Time for common sense regulation”.

 

Harris, March 22, 2020, Twitter.

Harris, March 22, 2020, Twitter.

 

Twitter, August 23, 2018. Harris joins Al Gore, Unilever CIO Jane Moran, and Will.I.Am for an all-star "Dreamforce" cast.

Twitter, August 23, 2018. Harris joins Al Gore, Unilever CIO Jane Moran, and Will.I.Am for an all-star “Dreamforce” cast.

September 21 2018: “Along with nearly 200,000 devotees of the cloud-computing company Salesforce, I will attend Dreamforce, the firm’s annual takeover of San Francisco and the largest tech conference in the world… Dreamforce’s string of ultra-famous musical acts—past headliners include U2, Stevie Wonder, and The Foo Fighters—so I should try to get my head around them… Separate the can’t-miss speakers from the must-miss speakers. Can’t-miss: Al Gore, Unilever CIO Jane Moran, former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris, and for some reason, I’d really like to see what the NBA player Andre Iguodala has to say. Must-miss: Adrian Grenier and Will.I.Am.”

Center for Humane Technology Alliances

Center for Humane Technology (formerly Time Well Spent) partners include Exposure Labs, a film and impact production company founded by Social Dilemma director Jeff Orlowski, and Bryson Gillette, a strategic communications and public affairs firm. Clients of Orlowski (director and producer of Chasing Ice and Chasing Coral) include Stanford University National Geographic, and the Jane Goodall Institute. [Source] Here it should noted that these three institutions play leading roles in the global financialization of nature.

Center for Humane Technology funders include foundations, tech billionaires and tech creators including Open Society Foundations, Ford Foundation, Knight Foundation, Evolve Ventures Foundation, David Magerman, and Craig Newmark. [Funders] The Omidyar Network would partner with the Center investing USD 800,000 (USD 450,000 in 2018). In addition to its partnership with the Center for Humane Technology, other Omidyar partners under the theme “Responsible Technology” and “reimagining capitalism” include the United Nations Foundation, Wired, the World Bank and the World Economic Forum.

“You might expect that Facebook, which derives its profits from the amount of time people spend interacting with the advertisements in its apps, would reject the Time Well Spent thesis. Instead, the company co-opted it. In a January 11th post, Mark Zuckerberg invoked the initiative by name. “By focusing on bringing people closer together — whether it’s with family and friends, or around important moments in the world — we can help make sure that Facebook is time well spent,” he wrote.

 

January 17, 2018, “Time well spent” is shaping up to be tech’s next big debate, A War of Words”

On February 5, 2018, “Common Sense” partnered with the Center for Humane Technology for the “Truth About Tech” Campaign “in response to escalating concerns about digital addiction”. Common Sense reported USD 19 million+ revenue in 2015. Major funders include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Marc Benioff. In September 2017, Center for Humane Technology funder Knight Foundation announced a USD 2.5 million investment in projects that address “a declining trust in media in the internet age.” [Source] Many continue to identify this increasingly familiar pattern as co-optation. It is not. Rather, it has become the preferred method of public relations. Create a movement, appoint a spokesperson to fulfill the role of “leader”. For pennies on the dollar, billionaires are channelling millions to organisations framed as opposition. Ruling class sanctioned “critics”, rewarded with media exposure celebrity and access, have become the most effective means of smothering the “techlash flames” and a growing distrust of corporate power. A poorly understood genre of effective crisis communications management, this strategy has proven to be deadly efficient.

Center For Humane Technology Funders

Center For Humane Technology Funders

Center for Humane Technology funders

The Center for Humane Technology hosts the podcast “Your Undivided Attention”. The May 18, 2020 podcast “The Stubborn Optimist’s Guide to Saving the Planet” features the prominent Christiana Figueres, who explains “a clear and alluring vision of a future that can supplant the dystopian” is required for the “great reset” Fourth Industrial Revolution architecture, as sought by the World Economic Forum, to take hold. The “future we choose”, (The Future We Choose by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, February 25, 2020) is, in fact, the future they chose some time ago. The podcast attributes Figueres with “stubborn optimism” for having convinced state governments to sign the Paris Agreement. [Further reading: This Changes Nothing: The Paris Agreement to Ignore Reality, Clive Spash, Vienna University of Economics and Business] The podcast then explores “how a similar shift in Silicon Valley’s vision could lead 3 billion people to take action.”

“This could be the most important wake-up call of our times.”

 

— Professor Klaus Schwab, CEO World Economic, Forum, Praise for the Future We Choose

 


“Figueres and Rivett-Carnac dare to tell us how our response can create a better, fairer world.”

 

— Naomi Klein, Praise for the Future We Choose

Christiana Figueres, Twitter, May 21, 2019

Christiana Figueres, Twitter, May 21, 2019

 

In the same way that Greta Thunberg never touches upon the sought financialization of nature, global in scale (expected to be implemented in 2021), instead serving as the very face of the campaign; in the same way that Thunberg does not shine an imperative light on militarization as a key driver of climate change, the Center for Humane Technology, which highlights climate change as a key concern, makes no mention of the massive and growing carbon footprint by the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) sector [A look at this growth is extensively detailed further in this series]. In the same way that Thunberg remains silent on the roll-out of 5G (the fifth generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks), adding additional layers of threats to biodiversity and all living life forms, including human, neither does the Centre for Humane Technology. 5G is, unequivocally, the very foundation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, launched to the public as “the great reset”. Without 5G, the Fourth Industrial Revolution architecture, as sought by the ruling class, will collapse like a house of cards. These deliberate omissions represent the most egregious form of climate denialism that goes largely unchallenged. To call for humane technology while making no mention of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is an impossible oversight. We are being conditioned to accept, and even demand, the very infrastructure and said “solutions” that the states, serving the ruling classes, wish to impose on us. This is social engineering en masse.

Social Media – We Think the Price Is Worth It

Just as there is no negotiating with the brutality of capitalism – there is no negotiating with a trillion dollar social media industry, firmly entrenched in the jaws of capitalism. “A path to humane technology” is just one public relations effort going forward to quell any backlash against the new global architecture, financed by the very entities advancing their depraved collective ideologies.

“The shocks of digital commodification are writing a new chapter in capitalism’s long history of violent dislocation.”

 

Dan Schiller, historian of information and communications [Source]

The Social Dilemma film highlights the arrival and exponential growth of social media, and its direct correlation with self-harm and suicide amongst pre-teens and youth: U.S. hospital admissions of girls aged 15-19 have increased 62% since 2009 (correlating with social media becoming accessible via the mobile phone), with the admission of young girls aged 10-14 having increased a staggering 189%. U.S. suicide rates for young girls are just as alarming with a 70% increase for girls aged 15-19 (*compared to the average from 2001-2010), with the suicide rate of the younger group of girls (aged 10-14) increasing a whopping *151%. This tragedy alone should be enough to relegate social media to the dustbin, yet in an “Albright-esque” depravity, society has accepted the self-harm and suicides with the unspoken yet collective “we think the price is worth it” non-response. The corporate world that lies and breathes this depraved ideology never has espoused nor never will espouse a higher regard for humanity than for profits.

And while the documentary appears to highlight social media’s atrocious negative impacts on the social fabric of whole societies, and in spite of highlighting the incredible harm on youth, the film does not once mention Facebook’s latest colonial conquest: the continent of culturally rich and diverse Africa – with a median age of eighteen years old.

Nor does the film, or Harris, mention the Facebook project “internet.org”. Not dead, but rebranded as “Free Basics”, rolling out quietly behind a purposeful media blackout. [Discussed in part II.]

The goal of Facebook is world domination. On February 4, 2016, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced the corporation’s goal of obtaining 5 billion users by 2030. Two days later, following nationwide protests in India, the Facebook project, having been rebranded to “Free Basics”, was banned by the Telecom regulatory Authority of India.

Facebook realised it would need to attain, what the World Economic Forum today must also acquire for “the great reset”. That is, social license. With unlimited resources, the World Economic Forum has retained and financed civil society (non-profits, NGOs). Influencers have been chosen and moulded. The Global Shapers have been mobilised. In January 2020, “The Schwab Foundation community joined world leaders at a time where the issues at the core of the community’s work is now front and centre of the global agenda.” Nightmares for citizens and biodiversity are being wrapped in dark green vellum and holistic linguistics. “Humane” is to tech, what “stakeholder” is to capitalism. A rebranding exercise selling a kinder, new gentler form of oppression, exploitation and misery. A kinder, soft power form of psychological manipulation, purposeful addiction, and democratic depression.

As a nod to its funders and neoliberalism itself, the film warns of the threat to be “radicalized” by “anti-vaxxers”, and those that don’t vote. That is, those that are not interested in a “vaccine revolution” being sought to further serve the interests (profits) of the pharmaceutical industry, rather than the interests of society’s health and well-being. That is, those who understand that elections held in states that serve the global corporatocracy represent nothing more than “another exciting round of elections in the fabulous wonderland of bourgeois democracy.” (Stephanie McMillan). All while the real threat is the continued pacification, conditioning and domestication of the citizenry.

 

[Source]

[Source]

[Source]

Vanity Fair Annual New Establishment Summit 2017. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz. Vanity Fair, 2019, Tristan Harris “[F]rom his childhood as a magician to working with the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab to his role as CEO of Apture, which was acquired by Google. He has been featured on 60 Minutes, TED, The Atlantic, the PBS Newshour, and more. He has worked with major technology CEOs and briefed heads of state and other political leaders.” [Source]

The devolving of physical relationships and whole societies, up against an accelerating, digitalized, virtual world is not a social dilemma. The leveraging of COVID-19, waged as a weapon against the citizenry, is not a social dilemma. Rather, this is the strategic destruction of the social. A social dismantling. A social deliquesce. A social nightmare.

For the Fourth Industrial Revolution to take hold, our global society must be socially engineered to accept, even prefer an artificial existence over that of a physical one. The saturation of the collective psyche with language and framing such as “tech for good” is strategic, a key method and means of obtaining the social license required for the Fourth Industrial Revolution “great reset”. The “watch dogs” put forward as reassurance to assuage a growing anxiety, thus a growing threat of backlash, serve not society, but the hand that feeds.

Physical is dangerous, digital is safe. Humans are lethal, technology is benign. Masks assist in dehumanising the human body. The conditioning for avoidance of human intimacy. Children learning not to touch. Nature is both separate and zoonotic – stay home, stay safe. Our deteriorating social fabric, already eroded from social media, and technology at large, has been doused with gasoline. It burns in silence behind a veil of willful blindness. Both isolated and detached from the physical presence of one another, and nature herself, we are in freefall. Remains of relationships in piles of invisible ashes.

Next: Part II

[Further reading: Klaus Schwab and his great fascist reset, October 5, 2020]

Klaus Schwab and His Great Fascist Reset – An Overview

Winter Oak

October 5, 2020

 

Introduction by Cory Morningstar, Wrong Kind of Green Collective:
This exemplary overview is written by Paul Cudenec, who I work with on the No Deal For Nature campaign – an effort to educate the citizenry (in order to stop) the coming enclosure and financialization of nature, global in scale. (Created by the World Economic Forum in partnership with the United Nations, World Wildlife Fund and Gore’s Climate Reality Project, legislation is now slated for 2021). “Ecosystem Services” will be bought, sold and traded on Wall Street. GDP replaced by “Natural Capital Accounting”. Those that have destroyed the planet’s biodiversity, will now own what remains. Including the oceans. The enclosure of the commons will further displace Indigenous Peoples. An acceleration of an ongoing genocide. Following the full commodification/privatization of nature, the financialization of social and human will follow. This is part of the new “global governance” infrastructure underpinning the fourth industrial revolution, being rolled out to the global citizenry as the “great reset”. COVID-19 is the catalyst. [Follow No Deal For Nature on twitter] [No Deal For Nature UK Website]
Packaged in holistic linguistics, key buzzwords (thrive, thriving, imagine, imagination, reimagine, build back better), new deals, and emotive imagery, those serving capital and current power structures have been tasked with building and obtaining the social license required.
But what exactly is the vision? Here, Paul takes you on a journey, using direct quotes from Klaus Schwab, from his recent books including “COVID-19, The Great Reset”. Both riveting – and terrifying, due to the depraved ideologies and goals described within, I suggest people find a quiet place, to read every word of this overview. Please share in broader circles.

 

 

Born in Ravensburg in 1938, Klaus Schwab is a child of Adolf Hitler’s Germany, a police-state regime built on fear and violence, on brainwashing and control, on propaganda and lies, on industrialism and eugenics, on dehumanisation and “disinfection”, on a chilling and grandiose vision of a “new order” that would last a thousand years.

Schwab seems to have dedicated his life to reinventing that nightmare and to trying to turn it into a reality not just for Germany but for the whole world.

Worse still, as his own words confirm time and time again, his technocratic fascist vision is also a twisted transhumanist one, which will merge humans with machines in “curious mixes of digital-and-analog life”, which will infect our bodies with “Smart Dust” and in which the police will apparently be able to read our brains.

And, as we will see, he and his accomplices are using the Covid-19 crisis to bypass democratic accountability, to override opposition, to accelerate their agenda and to impose it on the rest of humankind against our will in what he terms a “Great Reset“.

Schwab is not, of course, a Nazi in the classic sense, being neither a nationalist nor an anti-semite, as testified by the $1 million Dan David Prize  he was awarded by Israel in 2004.

But 21st century fascism has found different political forms through which to continue its core project of reshaping humanity to suit capitalism through blatantly authoritarian means.

This new fascism is today being advanced in the guise of global governance, biosecurity, the “New Normal”, the “New Deal for Nature” and the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

4IR

Schwab, the octogenarian founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, sits at the centre of this matrix like a spider on a giant web.

The original fascist project, in Italy and Germany, was all about a merger of state and business.

While communism envisages the take-over of business and industry by the government, which – theoretically! – acts in the interests of the people, fascism was all about using the state to protect and advance the interests of the wealthy elite.

Schwab was continuing this approach in a denazified post-WW2 context, when in 1971 he founded the European Management Forum, which held annual meetings at Davos in Switzerland.

Here he promoted his ideology of “stakeholder” capitalism in which businesses were brought into closer co-operation with government.

“Stakeholder capitalism” is described by Forbes business magazine as “the notion that a firm focuses on meeting the needs of all its stakeholders: customers, employees, partners, the community, and society as a whole”.

Even in the context of a particular business, it is invariably an empty label. As the Forbes article notes, it actually only means that “firms can go on privately shoveling money to their shareholders and executives, while maintaining a public front of exquisite social sensitivity and exemplary altruism”.

But in a general social context, the stakeholder concept is even more nefarious, discarding any idea of democracy, rule by the people, in favour of rule by corporate interests.

Society is no longer regarded as a living community but as a business, whose profitability is the sole valid aim of human activity.

Schwab set out this agenda back in 1971, in his book Moderne Unternehmensführung im Maschinenbau (Modern Enterprise Management in Mechanical Engineering), where his use of the term “stakeholders” (die Interessenten) effectively redefined human beings not as citizens, free individuals or members of communities, but as secondary participants in a massive commercial enterprise.

The aim of each and every person’s life was “to achieve long-term growth and prosperity” for this enterprise – in other words, to protect and increase the wealth of the capitalist elite.

This all became even clearer in 1987, when Schwab renamed his European Management Forum the World Economic Forum.

The WEF describes itself on its own website as “the global platform for public-private cooperation”, with admirers describing how it creates “partnerships between businessmen, politicians, intellectuals and other leaders of society to ‘define, discuss and advance key issues on the global agenda’.”

The “partnerships” which the WEF creates are aimed at replacing democracy with a global leadership of hand-picked and unelected individuals whose duty is not to serve the public, but to impose the rule of the 1% on that public with as little interference from the rest of us as possible.

In the books Schwab writes for public consumption, he expresses himself in the two-faced clichés of corporate spin and greenwashing.

The same empty terms are dished up time and time again. In Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: A Guide to Building a Better World Schwab talks of “the inclusion of stakeholders and the distribution of benefits” and of “sustainable and inclusive partnerships” which will lead us all to an “inclusive, sustainable and prosperous future”! (1)

Behind this bluster, the real motivation driving his “stakeholder capitalism”, which he was still relentlessly promoting at the WEF’s 2020 Davos conference, is profit and exploitation.

For instance, in his 2016 book The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Schwab writes about the Uberisation of work and the consequent advantages for companies, particularly fast-growing start-ups in the digital economy: “As human cloud platforms classify workers as self-employed, they are—for the moment—free of the requirement to pay minimum wages, employer taxes and social benefits”. (2)

The same capitalist callousness shines through in his attitude towards people nearing the end of their working lives and in need of a well-deserved rest: “Aging is an economic challenge because unless retirement ages are drastically increased so that older members of society can continue to contribute to the workforce (an economic imperative that has many economic benefits), the working-age population falls at the same time as the percentage of dependent elders increases”. (3)

Everything in this world is reduced to economic challenges, economic imperatives and economic benefits for the ruling capitalist class.

The myth of Progress has long been used by the 1% to persuade people to accept the technologies designed to exploit and control us and Schwab plays on this when he declares that “the Fourth Industrial Revolution represents a significant source of hope for continuing the climb in human development that has resulted in dramatic increases in quality of life for billions of people since 1800”. (4)

KS Time magHe enthuses: “While it may not feel momentous to those of us experiencing a series of small but significant adjustments to life on a daily basis, it is not a minor change—the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a new chapter in human development, on a par with the first, second and third Industrial Revolutions, and once again driven by the increasing availability and interaction of a set of extraordinary technologies”. (5)

But he is well aware that technology is not ideologically neutral, as some like to claim. Technologies and societies shape each other, he says. “After all, technologies are tied up in how we know things, how we make decisions, and how we think about ourselves and each other. They are connected to our identities, worldviews and potential futures. From nuclear technologies to the space race, smartphones, social media, cars, medicine and infrastructure—the meaning of technologies makes them political. Even the concept of a ‘developed’ nation implicitly rests on the adoption of technologies and what they mean for us, economically and socially”. (6)

Technology, for the capitalists behind it, has never been about social good but purely about profit, and Schwab makes it quite clear that the same remains true of his Fourth Industrial Revolution.

He enthuses: “Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies are truly disruptive—they upend existing ways of sensing, calculating, organizing, acting and delivering. They represent entirely new ways of creating value for organizations and citizens”. (7)

In case the meaning of “creating value” was not clear, he gives some examples: “Drones represent a new type of cost-cutting employee working among us and performing jobs that once involved real people” (8) and “the use of ever-smarter algorithms is rapidly extending employee productivity—for example, in the use of chat bots to augment (and, increasingly, replace) ‘live chat’ support for customer interactions”. (9)

Schwab goes into some detail about the cost-cutting, profit-boosting marvels of his brave new world in The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

He explains: “Sooner than most anticipate, the work of professions as different as lawyers, financial analysts, doctors, journalists, accountants, insurance underwriters or librarians may be partly or completely automated…

“The technology is progressing so fast that Kristian Hammond, cofounder of Narrative Science, a company specializing in automated narrative generation, forecasts that by the mid-2020s, 90% of news could be generated by an algorithm, most of it without any kind of human intervention (apart from the design of the algorithm, of course)”. (10)

It is this economic imperative that informs Schwab’s enthusiasm for “a revolution that is fundamentally changing the way we live, work, and relate to one another”. (11)

IOT

Schwab waxes lyrical about the 4IR, which he insists is “unlike anything humankind has experienced before”. (12)

He gushes: “Consider the unlimited possibilities of having billions of people connected by mobile devices, giving rise to unprecedented processing power, storage capabilities and knowledge access. Or think about the staggering confluence of emerging technology breakthroughs, covering wide-ranging fields such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the internet of things (IoT), autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage and quantum computing, to name a few. Many of these innovations are in their infancy, but they are already reaching an inflection point in their development as they build on and amplify each other in a fusion of technologies across the physical, digital and biological worlds”. (13)

He also looks forward to more online education, involving “the use of virtual and augmented reality” to “dramatically improve educational outcomes” (14), to sensors “installed in homes, clothes and accessories, cities, transport and energy networks” (15) and to smart cities, with their all-important “data platforms”. (16)

“All things will be smart and connected to the internet”, says Schwab, and this will extend to animals, as “sensors wired in cattle can communicate to each other through a mobile phone network”. (17)

He loves the idea of “smart cell factories” which could enable “the accelerated generation of vaccines” (18) and “big-data technologies”. (19)

These, he ensures us, will “deliver new and innovative ways to service citizens and customers” (20) and we will have to stop objecting to businesses profiting from harnessing and selling information about every aspect of our personal lives.

“Establishing trust in the data and algorithms used to make decisions will be vital,” insists Schwab. “Citizen concerns over privacy and establishing accountability in business and legal structures will require adjustments in thinking”. (21)

At the end of the day it is clear that all this technological excitement revolves purely around profit, or “value” as Schwab prefers to term it in his 21st century corporate newspeak.

Thus blockchain technology will be fantastic and provoke “an explosion in tradable assets, as all kinds of value exchange can be hosted on the blockchain”. (22)

The use of distributed ledger technology, adds Schwab, “could be the driving force behind massive flows of value in digital products and services, providing secure digital identities that can make new markets accessible to anyone connected to the internet”. (23)

In general, the interest of the 4IR for the ruling business elite is that it will “create entirely new sources of value” (24) and “give rise to ecosystems of value creation that are impossible to imagine with a mindset stuck in the third Industrial Revolution”. (25)

The technologies of the 4IR, rolled out via 5G, pose unprecedented threats to our freedom, as Schwab concedes: “The tools of the fourth industrial revolution enable new forms of surveillance and other means of control that run counter to healthy, open societies”. (26)

KS shapingBut this does not stop him presenting them in a positive light, as when he declares that “public crime is likely to decrease due to the convergence of sensors, cameras, AI and facial recognition software”. (27)

He describes with some relish how these technologies “can intrude into the hitherto private space of our minds, reading our thoughts and influencing our behavior”. (28)

Schwab predicts: “As capabilities in this area improve, the temptation for law enforcement agencies and courts to use techniques to determine the likelihood of criminal activity, assess guilt or even possibly retrieve memories directly from people’s brains will increase. Even crossing a national border might one day involve a detailed brain scan to assess an individual’s security risk”. (29)

There are times when the WEF chief gets carried away by his passion for a sci-fi future in which “long-distance human space travel and nuclear fusion are commonplace” (30) and in which “the next trending business model” might involve someone “trading access to his or her thoughts for the time-saving option of typing a social media post by thought alone”. (31)

Talk of “space tourism” under the title “The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the final frontier” (32) is almost funny, as is his suggestion that “a world full of drones offers a world full of possibilities”. (33)

But the further the reader progresses into the world depicted in Schwab’s books, the less of a laughing matter it all seems.

The truth is that this highly influential figure, at the centre of the new global order currently being established, is an out-and-out transhumanist who dreams of an end to natural healthy human life and community.

Schwab repeats this message time and time again, as if to be sure we have been duly warned.

“The mind-boggling innovations triggered by the fourth industrial revolution, from biotechnology to AI, are redefining what it means to be human,” (34) he writes.

“The future will challenge our understanding of what it means to be human, from both a biological and a social standpoint”. (35)

“Already, advances in neurotechnologies and biotechnologies are forcing us to question what it means to be human”. (36)

He spells it out in more detail in Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: “Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies will not stop at becoming part of the physical world around us—they will become part of us. Indeed, some of us already feel that our smartphones have become an extension of ourselves. Today’s external devices—from wearable computers to virtual reality headsets—will almost certainly become implantable in our bodies and brains. Exoskeletons and prosthetics will increase our physical power, while advances in neurotechnology enhance our cognitive abilities. We will become better able to manipulate our own genes, and those of our children. These developments raise profound questions: Where do we draw the line between human and machine? What does it mean to be human?” (37)

A whole section of this book is devoted to the theme “Altering the Human Being”. Here he drools over “the ability of new technologies to literally become part of us” and invokes a cyborg future involving “curious mixes of digital-and-analog life that will redefine our very natures”. (38)

He writes: “These technologies will operate within our own biology and change how we interface with the world. They are capable of crossing the boundaries of body and mind, enhancing our physical abilities, and even having a lasting impact on life itself “. (39)

No violation seems to go too far for Schwab, who dreams of “active implantable microchips that break the skin barrier of our bodies”, “smart tattoos”, “biological computing” and “custom-designed organisms”. (40)

He is delighted to report that “sensors, memory switches and circuits can be encoded in common human gut bacteria”, (41) that “Smart Dust, arrays of full computers with antennas, each much smaller than a grain of sand, can now organize themselves inside the body” and that “implanted devices will likely also help to communicate thoughts normally expressed verbally through a ‘built-in’ smartphone, and potentially unexpressed thoughts or moods by reading brain waves and other signals”. (42)

“Synthetic biology” is on the horizon in Schwab’s 4IR world, giving the technocratic capitalist rulers of the world “the ability to customize organisms by writing DNA”. (43)

The idea of neurotechnologies, in which humans will have fully artificial memories implanted in the brain, is enough to make some of us feel faintly sick, as is “the prospect of connecting our brains to VR through cortical modems, implants or nanobots”. (44)

It is of little comfort to learn that this is all – of course! – in the greater interests of capitalist profiteering since it “heralds new industries and systems for value creation” and “represents an opportunity to create entire new systems of value in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. (45)

And what about “the bioprinting of organic tissues” (46) or the suggestion that “animals could potentially be engineered to produce pharmaceuticals and other forms of treatment”? (47)

Ethical objections, anyone?

It’s all evidently good for Schwab, who is happy to announce: “The day when cows are engineered to produce in its [sic] milk a blood-clotting element, which hemophiliacs lack, is not far off. Researchers have already started to engineer the genomes of pigs with the goal of growing organs suitable for human transplantation”. (48)

Nagashima(Fig.1-3).pptx

It gets even more disturbing. Ever since the sinister eugenics programme of the Nazi Germany into which Schwab was born, this science has been deemed beyond the pale by human society.

But now, however, he evidently feels eugenics is due a revival, announcing with regard to genetic editing: “That it is now far easier to manipulate with precision the human genome within viable embryos means that we are likely to see the advent of designer babies in the future who possess particular traits or who are resistant to a specific disease”. (49)

In the notorious 2002 transhumanist treatise I, Cyborg, Kevin Warwick predicts: “Humans will be able to evolve by harnessing the super-intelligence and extra abilities offered by the machines of the future, by joining with them. All this points to the development of a new human species, known in the science-fiction world as ‘cyborgs’. It doesn’t mean that everyone has to become a cyborg. If you are happy with your state as a human then so be it, you can remain as you are. But be warned – just as we humans split from our chimpanzee cousins years ago, so cyborgs will split from humans. Those who remain as humans are likely to become a sub-species. They will, effectively, be the chimpanzees of the future”. (50)

Schwab seems to be hinting at the same future of a “superior” enhanced artificial transhuman elite separating from the natural-born rabble, in this particularly damning passage from The Fourth Industrial Revolution: “We are at the threshold of a radical systemic change that requires human beings to adapt continuously. As a result, we may witness an increasing degree of polarization in the world, marked by those who embrace change versus those who resist it.

KS 4IR“This gives rise to an inequality that goes beyond the societal one described earlier. This ontological inequality will separate those who adapt from those who resist—the material winners and losers in all senses of the words. The winners may even benefit from some form of radical human improvement generated by certain segments of the fourth industrial revolution (such as genetic engineering) from which the losers will be deprived. This risks creating class conflicts and other clashes unlike anything we have seen before”. (51)

Schwab was already talking about a “great transformation” back in 2016 (52) and is clearly determined to do everything in his not inconsiderable power to bring about his eugenics-inspired transhumanist world of artifice, surveillance, control and exponential profit.

But, as revealed by his reference above to “class conflicts”, he is clearly worried by the possibility of “societal resistance” (53) and how to advance “if technologies receive a great deal of resistance from the public”. (54)

Schwab’s annual WEF shindigs at Davos have long been met by anti-capitalist protests and, despite the current paralysis of the radical left, he is well aware of the possibility of renewed and perhaps broader opposition to his project, with the risk of “resentment, fear and political backlash”. (55)

In his most recent book he provides a historical context, noting that “antiglobalization was strong in the run-up to 1914 and up to 1918, then less so during the 1920s, but it reignited in the 1930s as a result of the Great Depression”. (56)

He notes that in the early 2000s “the political and societal backlash against globalization relentlessly gained strength”, (57) says that “social unrest” has been widespread across the world in the past two years, citing the Gilets Jaunes in France among other movements, and invokes the “sombre scenario” that “the same could happen again”. (58)

ks davos protest4

So how is an honest technocrat supposed to roll out his preferred future for the world without the agreement of the global public? How can Schwab and his billionaire friends impose their favoured society on the rest of us?

One answer is relentless brainwashing propaganda churned out by the mass media and academia owned by the 1% elite – what they like to call “a narrative”.

For Schwab, the reluctance of the majority of humankind to leap aboard his 4IR express reflects the tragedy that “the world lacks a consistent, positive and common narrative that outlines the opportunities and challenges of the fourth industrial revolution, a narrative that is essential if we are to empower a diverse set of individuals and communities and avoid a popular backlash against the fundamental changes under way”. (59)

He adds: “It is, therefore, critical that we invest attention and energy in multistakeholder cooperation across academic, social, political, national and industry boundaries. These interactions and collaborations are needed to create positive, common and hope-filled narratives, enabling individuals and groups from all parts of the world to participate in, and benefit from, the ongoing transformations”. (60)

4IRbOne of these “narratives” whitewashes the reasons for which 4IR technology needs to be installed everywhere in the world as soon as possible.

Schwab is frustrated that “more than half of the world’s population—around 3.9 billion people—still cannot access the internet”, (61) with 85% of the population of developing countries remaining offline and therefore out of reach, as compared to 22% in the developed world.

The actual aim of the 4IR is to exploit these populations for profit via global techno-imperialism, but of course that cannot be stated in the propaganda “narrative” required to sell the plan.

Instead, their mission has to be presented, as Schwab himself does, as a bid to “develop technologies and systems that serve to distribute economic and social values such as income, opportunity and liberty to all stakeholders”. (62)

He piously postures as a guardian of woke liberal values, declaring: “Thinking inclusively goes beyond thinking about poverty or marginalized communities simply as an aberration—something that we can solve. It forces us to realize that ‘our privileges are located on the same map as their suffering’. It moves beyond income and entitlements, though these remain important. Instead, the inclusion of stakeholders and the distribution of benefits expand freedoms for all”. (63)

The same technique, of a fake “narrative” designed to fool good-thinking citizens into supporting an imperialist capitalist scheme, has been used extensively with regard to climate change.

Schwab is a great fan of Greta Thunberg, of course, who had barely stood up from the pavement after her one-girl protest in Stockholm before being whisked off to address the WEF at Davos.

Greta1

He is also a supporter of the proposed global New Deal for Nature, particularly via Voice for the Planet, which was launched at the WEF in Davos in 2019 by the Global Shapers, a youth-grooming organisation created by Schwab in 2011 and aptly described by investigative journalist Cory Morningstar as “a grotesque display of corporate malfeasance disguised as good”.

In his 2020 book, Schwab actually lays out the way that fake “youth activism” is being used to advance his capitalist aims.

He writes, in a remarkably frank passage: “Youth activism is increasing worldwide, being revolutionized by social media that increases mobilization to an extent that would have been impossible before. It takes many different forms, ranging from non-institutionalized political participation to demonstrations and protests, and addresses issues as diverse as climate change, economic reforms, gender equality and LGBTQ rights. The young generation is firmly at the vanguard of social change. There is little doubt that it will be the catalyst for change and a source of critical momentum for the Great Reset”. (64)

In fact, of course, the ultra-industrial future proposed by Schwab is anything other than green. It’s not nature he’s interested in, but “natural capital” and “incentivizing investment in green and social frontier markets”. (65)

Pollution means profit and environmental crisis is just another business opportunity, as he details in The Fourth Industrial Revolution: “In this revolutionary new industrial system, carbon dioxide turns from a greenhouse pollutant into an asset, and the economics of carbon capture and storage move from being cost as well as pollution sinks to becoming profitable carbon-capture and use-production facilities. Even more important, it will help companies, governments and citizens become more aware of and engaged with strategies to actively regenerate natural capital, allowing intelligent and regenerative uses of natural capital to guide sustainable production and consumption and give space for biodiversity to recover in threatened areas”. (66)

carbon capture2

Schwab’s “solutions” to the heart-breaking damage inflicted on our natural world by industrial capitalism involve more of the same poison, except worse.

Geoengineering is one of his favourites: “Proposals include installing giant mirrors in the stratosphere to deflect the sun’s rays, chemically seeding the atmosphere to increase rainfall and the deployment of large machines to remove carbon dioxide from the air”. (67)

And he adds: “New approaches are currently being imagined through the combination of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, such as nanoparticles and other advanced materials”. (68)

Like all the businesses and pro-capitalist NGOs backing the threatened New Deal for Nature, Schwab is utterly and profoundly ungreen.

For him, the “ultimate possibility” of “clean” and “sustainable” energy includes nuclear fusion (69) and he looks forward to the day when satellites will “blanket the planet with communications pathways that could help connect the more than 4 billion people still lacking online access”. (70)

Schwab also very much regrets all that red tape preventing the unhindered onward march of GM food, warning that “global food security will only be achieved, however, if regulations on genetically modified foods are adapted to reflect the reality that gene editing offers a precise, efficient and safe method of improving crops”. (71)

The new order envisaged by Schwab will embrace the entire world and so global governance is required in order to impose it, as he repeatedly states.

His preferred future “will only come about through improved global governance” (72) he insists. “Some form of effective global governance” (73) is needed.

The problem we have today is that of a possible “global order deficit”, (74) he claims, adding improbably that the World Health Organization “is saddled with limited and dwindling resources”. (75)

What he is really saying is that his 4IR/great reset society will only function if imposed simultaneously everywhere on the planet, otherwise “we will become paralysed in our attempts to address and respond to global challenges”. (76)

He admits: “In a nutshell, global governance is at the nexus of all these other issues”. (77)

This all-englobing empire very much frowns on the idea of any particular population democratically deciding to take another path. These “risk becoming isolated from global norms, putting these nations at risk of becoming the laggards of the new digital economy”, (78) warns Schwab.

Any sense of autonomy and grassroots belonging is regarded as a threat from Schwab’s imperialist perspective and is due to be eradicated under the 4IR.

He writes: “Individuals used to identify their lives most closely with a place, an ethnic group, a particular culture or even a language. The advent of online engagement and increased exposure to ideas from other cultures means that identities are now more fungible than previously… Thanks to the combination of historical migration patterns and low-cost connectivity, family structures are being redefined”. (79)

Genuine democracy essentially falls into the same category for Schwab. He knows that most people will not willingly go along with plans to destroy their lives and enslave them to a global techno-fascist system of exploitation, so giving them a say in the matter is simply not an option.

This is why the “stakeholder” concept has been so important for Schwab’s project. As discussed above, this is the negation of democracy, with its emphasis instead on “reaching out across stakeholder groups for solution building”. (80)

If the public, the people, are included in this process it is only at a superficial level. The agenda has already been pre-supposed and the decisions pre-made behind the scenes.

Schwab effectively admits as much when he writes: “We must re-establish a dialogue among all stakeholders to ensure mutual understanding that further builds a culture of trust among regulators, non-governmental organizations, professionals and scientists. The public must also be considered, because it must participate in the democratic shaping of biotechnological developments that affect society, individuals and cultures”. (81)

So the public must “also” be considered, as an afterthought. Not even directly consulted, just “considered”! And the role of the people, the demos, will merely be to “participate” in the “shaping” of biotechnological developments. The possibility of the public actually rejecting the very idea of biotechnological developments has been entirely removed thanks to the deliberately in-built assumptions of the stakeholder formula.

The same message is implied in the heading of Schwab’s conclusion to Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: “What You Can Do to Shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. (82) The techno-tyranny cannot challenged or stopped, merely “shaped”.

Schwab uses the term “systems leadership” to describe the profoundly anti-democratic way in which the 1% imposes its agenda on us all, without giving us the chance to say ‘no’.

He writes: “Systems leadership is about cultivating a shared vision for change—working together with all stakeholders of global society—and then acting on it to change how the system delivers its benefits, and to whom. Systems leadership requires action from all stakeholders, including individuals, business executives, social influencers and policy-makers”. (83)

He refers to this full-spectrum top-down control as “the system management of human existence” (84) although others might prefer the term “totalitarianism”.

KS rally1 (2)

One of the distinguishing features of historical fascism in Italy and Germany was its impatience with the inconvenient restraints imposed on the ruling class (“the Nation” in fascist language) by democracy and political liberalism.

All of this had to be swept out of the way to allow a Blitzkrieg of accelerated “modernisation”.

We see the same spirit resurging in Schwab’s calls for “agile governance” in which he claims that “the pace of technological development and a number of characteristics of technologies render previous policy-making cycles and processes inadequate”. (85)

He writes: “The idea of reforming governance models to cope with new technologies is not new, but the urgency of doing so is far greater in light of the power of today’s emerging technologies… the concept of agile governance seeks to match the nimbleness, fluidity, flexibility and adaptiveness of the technologies themselves and the private-sector actors adopting them”. (86)

The phrase “reforming governance models to cope with new technologies” really gives the game away here. As under fascism, social structures must be reinvented so as to accommodate the requirements of capitalism and its profit-increasing technologies.

Schwab explains that his “agile governance” would involve creating so-called policy labs – “protected spaces within government with an explicit mandate to experiment with new methods of policy development by using agile principles” – and “encouraging collaborations between governments and businesses to create ‘developtory sandboxes’ and ‘experimental testbeds’ to develop regulations using iterative, cross-sectoral and flexible approaches”. (87)

For Schwab, the role of the state is to advance capitalist aims, not to hold them up to any form of scrutiny. While he is all in favour of the state’s role in enabling a corporate take-over of our lives, he is less keen about its regulatory function, which might slow down the inflow of profit into private hands, and so he envisages “the development of ecosystems of private regulators, competing in markets”. (88)

In his 2018 book, Schwab discusses the problem of pesky regulations and how best to “overcome these limits” in the context of data and privacy.

He comes up with the suggestion of “public-private data-sharing agreements that ‘break glass in case of emergency’. These come into play only under pre-agreed emergency circumstances (such as a pandemic) and can help reduce delays and improve the coordination of first responders, temporarily allowing data sharing that would be illegal under normal circumstances”. (89)

Funnily enough, two years later there was indeed a “pandemic” and these “pre-agreed emergency circumstances” became a reality.

This shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise for Schwab, since his WEF had co-hosted the infamous Event 201 conference in October 2019, which modelled a fictional coronavirus pandemic.

And he wasted little time in bringing out a new book, Covid-19: The Great Reset, co-authored with Thierry Malleret, who runs something called the Monthly Barometer, “a succinct predictive analysis provided to private investors, global CEOs and opinion- and decision-makers”. (90)

Published in July 2020, the book sets out to advance “conjectures and ideas about what the post-pandemic world might, and perhaps should, look like”. (91)

Schwab and Malleret admit that Covid-19 is “one of the least deadly pandemics the world has experienced over the last 2000 years”, adding that “the consequences of COVID-19 in terms of health and mortality will be mild compared to previous pandemics”. (92)

They add: “It does not constitute an existential threat, or a shock that will leave its imprint on the world’s population for decades”. (93)

Yet, incredibly, this “mild” illness is simultaneously presented as the excuse for unprecedented social change under the banner of “The Great Reset”!

And although they explicitly declare that Covid-19 does not constitute a major “shock”, the authors repeatedly deploy the same term to describe the broader impact of the crisis.

Schwab and Malleret place Covid-19 in a long tradition of events which have facilitated sudden and significant changes to our societies.

They specifically invoke the Second World War: “World War II was the quintessential transformational war, triggering not only fundamental changes to the global order and the global economy, but also entailing radical shifts in social attitudes and beliefs that eventually paved the way for radically new policies and social contract provisions (like women joining the workforce before becoming voters). There are obviously fundamental dissimilarities between a pandemic and a war (that we will consider in some detail in the following pages), but the magnitude of their transformative power is comparable. Both have the potential to be a transformative crisis of previously unimaginable proportions”. (94)

They also join many contemporary “conspiracy theorists” in making a direct comparison between Covid-19 and 9/11: “This is what happened after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. All around the world, new security measures like employing widespread cameras, requiring electronic ID cards and logging employees or visitors in and out became the norm. At that time, these measures were deemed extreme, but today they are used everywhere and considered ‘normal’”. (95)

When any tyrant declares the right to rule over a population without taking their views into account, they like to justify their dictatorship with the claim that they are morally entitled to do so because they are “enlightened”.

The same is true of the Covid-fuelled tyranny of Schwab’s great reset, which the book categorises as “enlightened leadership”, adding: “Some leaders and decision-makers who were already at the forefront of the fight against climate change may want to take advantage of the shock inflicted by the pandemic to implement long-lasting and wider environmental changes. They will, in effect, make ‘good use’ of the pandemic by not letting the crisis go to waste”. (96)

The global capitalist ruling elite have certainly been doing their best to “take advantage of the shock inflicted by the panic”, assuring us all since the very earliest days of the outbreak that, for some unfathomable reason, nothing in our lives could ever be the same again.

Schwab and Malleret are, inevitably, enthusiastic in their use of the New Normal framing, despite their admission that the virus was only ever “mild”.

“It is our defining moment”, they crow. “Many things will change forever”. “A new world will emerge”. “The societal upheaval unleashed by COVID-19 will last for years, and possibly generations”. “Many of us are pondering when things will return to normal. The short response is: never”. (97)

 

They even go as far as proposing a new historical separation between “the pre-pandemic era” and “the post-pandemic world”. (98)

They write: “Radical changes of such consequence are coming that some pundits have referred to a ‘before coronavirus’ (BC) and ‘after coronavirus’ (AC) era. We will continue to be surprised by both the rapidity and unexpected nature of these changes – as they conflate with each other, they will provoke second-, third-, fourth- and more-order consequences, cascading effects and unforeseen outcomes. In so doing, they will shape a ‘new normal’ radically different from the one we will be progressively leaving behind. Many of our beliefs and assumptions about what the world could or should look like will be shattered in the process”. (99)

Back in 2016, Schwab was looking ahead to “new ways of using technology to change behavior” (100) and predicting: “The scale and breadth of the unfolding technological revolution will usher in economic, social and cultural changes of such phenomenal proportions that they are almost impossible to envisage”. (101)

One way in which he had hoped his technocratic agenda would be advanced was, as we have noted, through the phoney “solutions” to climate change proposed by fake green capitalists.

Under the title “environmental reset”, Schwab and Malleret state: “At first glance, the pandemic and the environment might seem to be only distantly related cousins; but they are much closer and more intertwined than we think”. (102)

One of the connections is that both the climate and virus “crises” have been used by the WEF and their like to push their agenda of global governance. As Schwab and his co-author put it, “they are global in nature and therefore can only be properly addressed in a globally coordinated fashion”. (103)

Another link is the way that the “the post-pandemic economy” and “the green economy” (104) involve massive profits for largely the same sectors of big business.

Covid-19 has evidently been great news for those capitalists hoping to cash in on environmental destruction, with Schwab and Malleret reporting: “The conviction that ESG strategies benefited from the pandemic and are most likely to benefit further is corroborated by various surveys and reports. Early data shows that the sustainability sector outperformed conventional funds during the first quarter of 2020”. (105)

The capitalist sharks of the so-called “sustainability sector” are rubbing their hands together with glee at the prospect of all the money they stand to make from the Covid-pretexted great fascist reset, in which the state is instrumentalised to fund their hypocritical profiteering.

Note Schwab and Malleret: “The key to crowding private capital into new sources of nature-positive economic value will be to shift key policy levers and public finance incentives as part of a wider economic reset”. (106)

“A policy paper prepared by Systemiq in collaboration with the World Economic Forum estimates that building the nature-positive economy could represent more than $10 trillion per year by 2030… Resetting the environment should not be seen as a cost, but rather as an investment that will generate economic activity and employment opportunities”. (107)

Given the intertwining of climate and Covid crises set out by Schwab, we might speculate that the original plan was to push through the New Normal reset on the back of the climate crisis.

But evidently, all that publicity for Greta Thunberg and big business-backed Extinction Rebellion did not whip up enough public panic to justify such measures.

Covid-19 serves Schwab’s purposes perfectly, as the immediate urgency it presents allows the whole process to be speeded up and rushed through without due scrutiny.

“This crucial difference between the respective time-horizons of a pandemic and that of climate change and nature loss means that a pandemic risk requires immediate action that will be followed by a rapid result, while climate change and nature loss also require immediate action, but the result (or ‘future reward’, in the jargon of economists) will only follow with a certain time lag”. (108)

For Schwab and his friends, Covid-19 is the great accelerator of everything they have been wanting to foist upon us for years.

As he and Malleret say: “The pandemic is clearly exacerbating and accelerating geopolitical trends that were already apparent before the crisis erupted”. (109)

“The pandemic will mark a turning point by accelerating this transition. It has crystallized the issue and made a return to the pre-pandemic status quo impossible”. (110)

They can barely conceal their delight at the direction society is now taking: “The pandemic will accelerate innovation even more, catalysing technological changes already under way (comparable to the exacerbation effect it has had on other underlying global and domestic issues) and ‘turbocharging’ any digital business or the digital dimension of any business”. (111)

“With the pandemic, the ‘digital transformation’ that so many analysts have been referring to for years, without being exactly sure what it meant, has found its catalyst. One major effect of confinement will be the expansion and progression of the digital world in a decisive and often permanent manner.

“In April 2020, several tech leaders observed how quickly and radically the necessities created by the health crisis had precipitated the adoption of a wide range of technologies. In the space of just one month, it appeared that many companies in terms of tech take-up fast-forwarded by several years”. (112)

Fate is obviously smiling on Klaus Schwab as this Covid-19 crisis has, happily, succeeded in advancing pretty much every aspect of the agenda he has been promoting over the decades.

Thus he and Malleret report with satisfaction that “the pandemic will fast-forward the adoption of automation in the workplace and the introduction of more robots in our personal and professional lives”. (113)

Lockdowns across the world have, needless to say, provided a big financial boost to those businesses offering online shopping.

The authors recount: “Consumers need products and, if they can’t shop, they will inevitably resort to purchasing them online. As the habit kicks in, people who had never shopped online before will become comfortable with doing so, while people who were part-time online shoppers before will presumably rely on it more. This was made evident during the lockdowns. In the US, Amazon and Walmart hired a combined 250,000 workers to keep up with the increase in demand and built massive infrastructure to deliver online. This accelerating growth of e-commerce means that the giants of the online retail industry are likely to emerge from the crisis even stronger than they were in the pre-pandemic era”. (114)

They add: “As more and diverse things and services are brought to us via our mobiles and computers, companies in sectors as disparate as e-commerce, contactless operations, digital content, robots and drone deliveries (to name just a few) will thrive. It is not by accident that firms like Alibaba, Amazon, Netflix or Zoom emerged as ‘winners’ from the lockdowns”. (115)

By way of corollary, we might suggest that it is “not by accident” that governments which have been captured and controlled by big business, thanks to the likes of the WEF, have imposed a “new reality” under which big businesses are the “winners”…

The Covid-inspired good news never stops for all the business sectors which stand to benefit from the Fourth Industrial Repression.

“The pandemic may prove to be a boon for online education,” Schwab and Malleret report. “In Asia, the shift to online education has been particularly notable, with a sharp increase in students’ digital enrolments, much higher valuation for online education businesses and more capital available for ‘ed-tech’ start-ups… In the summer of 2020, the direction of the trend seems clear: the world of education, like for so many other industries, will become partly virtual”. (116)

Online sports have also taken off: “For a while, social distancing may constrain the practice of certain sports, which will in turn benefit the ever-more powerful expansion of e-sports. Tech and digital are never far away!”. (117)

There is similar news from the banking sector: “Online banking interactions have risen to 90 percent during the crisis, from 10 percent, with no drop-off in quality and an increase in compliance”. (118)

The Covid-inspired move into online activity obviously benefits Big Tech, who are making enormous profits out of the crisis, as the authors describe: “The combined market value of the leading tech companies hit record after record during the lockdowns, even rising back above levels before the outbreak started… this phenomenon is unlikely to abate any time soon, quite the opposite”. (119)

But it is also good news for all the businesses involved, who no longer have to pay human beings to work for them. Automation is, and has always been, about saving costs and thus boosting profits for the capitalist elite.

The culture of the fascist New Normal will also provide lucrative spin-off benefits for particular business sectors, such as the packaging industry, explain Schwab and Malleret.

“The pandemic will certainly heighten our focus on hygiene. A new obsession with cleanliness will particularly entail the creation of new forms of packaging. We will be encouraged not to touch the products we buy. Simple pleasures like smelling a melon or squeezing a fruit will be frowned upon and may even become a thing of the past”. (120)

Apple in plastic

The authors also describe what sounds very much like a technocratic profit-related agenda behind the “social distancing” which has been such a key element of the Covid “reset”.

They write: “In one form or another, social- and physical-distancing measures are likely to persist after the pandemic itself subsides, justifying the decision in many companies from different industries to accelerate automation. After a while, the enduring concerns about technological unemployment will recede as societies emphasize the need to restructure the workplace in a way that minimizes close human contact. Indeed, automation technologies are particularly well suited to a world in which human beings can’t get too close to each other or are willing to reduce their interactions. Our lingering and possibly lasting fear of being infected with a virus (COVID-19 or another) will thus speed the relentless march of automation, particularly in the fields most susceptible to automation”. (121)

As previously mentioned, Schwab has long been frustrated by all those tiresome regulations which stop capitalists from making as much money as they would like to, by focusing on economically irrelevant concerns such as the safety and well being of human beings.

But – hooray! – the Covid crisis has provided the perfect excuse for doing away with great swathes of these outmoded impediments to prosperity and growth.

One area in which meddlesome red tape is being abandoned is health. Why would any right-minded stakeholder imagine that any particular obligation for care and diligence should be allowed to impinge on the profitablity of this particular business sector?

Schwab and Malleret are overjoyed to note that telemedicine will “benefit considerably” from the Covid emergency: “The necessity to address the pandemic with any means available (plus, during the outbreak, the need to protect health workers by allowing them to work remotely) removed some of the regulatory and legislative impediments related to the adoption of telemedicine”. (122)

wef protest2

The ditching of regulations is a general phenomenon under the New Normal global regime, as Schwab and Malleret relate:

“To date governments have often slowed the pace of adoption of new technologies by lengthy ponderings about what the best regulatory framework should look like but, as the example of telemedicine and drone delivery is now showing, a dramatic acceleration forced by necessity is possible. During the lockdowns, a quasi-global relaxation of regulations that had previously hampered progress in domains where the technology had been available for years suddenly happened because there was no better or other choice available. What was until recently unthinkable suddenly became possible… New regulations will stay in place”. (123)

They add: “The current imperative to propel, no matter what, the ‘contactless economy’ and the subsequent willingness of regulators to speed it up means that there are no holds barred”. (124)

“No holds barred”. Make no mistake: this is the language adopted by capitalism when it abandons its pretence at liberal democracy and switches into full-on fascist mode.

It is clear from Schwab and Malleret’s work that a fascistic merging of state and business, to the advantage of the latter, underpins their great reset.

Phenomenal sums of money have been transferred from the public purse into the bulging pockets of the 1% since the very start of the Covid crisis, as they acknowledge: “In April 2020, just as the pandemic began to engulf the world, governments across the globe had announced stimulus programmes amounting to several trillion dollars, as if eight or nine Marshall Plans had been put into place almost simultaneously”. (125)

They continue: “COVID-19 has rewritten many of the rules of the game between the public and private sectors. … The benevolent (or otherwise) greater intrusion of governments in the life of companies and the conduct of their business will be country- and industry-dependent, therefore taking many different guises”. (126)

“Measures that would have seemed inconceivable prior to the pandemic may well become standard around the world as governments try to prevent the economic recession from turning into a catastrophic depression.

“Increasingly, there will be calls for government to act as a ‘payer of last resort’ to prevent or stem the spate of mass layoffs and business destruction triggered by the pandemic. All these changes are altering the rules of the economic and monetary policy ‘game’.” (127)

Schwab and his fellow author welcome the prospect of increased state powers being used to prop up big business profiteering.

They write: “One of the great lessons of the past five centuries in Europe and America is this: acute crises contribute to boosting the power of the state. It’s always been the case and there is no reason why it should be different with the COVID-19 pandemic”. (128)

And they add: “Looking to the future, governments will most likely, but with different degrees of intensity, decide that it’s in the best interest of society to rewrite some of the rules of the game and permanently increase their role”. (129)

The idea of rewriting the rules of the game is, again, very reminiscent of fascist language, as of course is the idea of permanently increasing the role of the state in helping the private sector.

Indeed, it is worth comparing Schwab’s position on this issue with that of Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, who responded to economic crisis in 1931 by launching a special emergency body, L’Istituto mobiliare italiano, to aid businesses.

He declared this was “a means of energetically driving the Italian economy towards its corporative phase, which is to say a system which fundamentally respects private property and initiative, but ties them tightly to the State, which alone can protect, control and nourish them”. (130)

Suspicions about the fascistic nature of Schwab’s great reset are confirmed, of course, by the police-state measures that have been rolled out across the world to ensure compliance with “emergency” Covid measures.

The sheer brute force that never lies far beneath the surface of the capitalist system becomes increasingly visible when it enters it fascist stage and this is very much in evidence in Schwab and Malleret’s book.

The word “force” is deployed time and time again in the context of Covid-19. Sometimes this is in a business context, as with the statements that “COVID-19 has forced all the banks to accelerate a digital transformation that is now here to stay” or that “the micro reset will force every company in every industry to experiment new ways of doing business, working and operating”. (131)

But sometimes it is applied directly to human beings, or “consumers” as Schwab and his ilk prefer to think of us.

“During the lockdowns, many consumers previously reluctant to rely too heavily on digital applications and services were forced to change their habits almost overnight: watching movies online instead of going to the cinema, having meals delivered instead of going out to restaurants, talking to friends remotely instead of meeting them in the flesh, talking to colleagues on a screen instead of chit-chatting at the coffee machine, exercising online instead of going to the gym, and so on…

“Many of the tech behaviours that we were forced to adopt during confinement will through familiarity become more natural. As social and physical distancing persist, relying more on digital platforms to communicate, or work, or seek advice, or order something will, little by little, gain ground on formerly ingrained habits”. (132)

Under a fascist system, individuals are not offered the choice as to whether they want to comply with its demands or not, as Schwab and Malleret make quite clear regarding so-called contact-tracing: “No voluntary contact-tracing app will work if people are unwilling to provide their own personal data to the governmental agency that monitors the system; if any individual refuses to download the app (and therefore to withhold information about a possible infection, movements and contacts), everyone will be adversely affected”. (133)

This, they reflect, is another great advantage of the Covid crisis over the environmental one which might have been used to impose their New Normal: “While for a pandemic, a majority of citizens will tend to agree with the necessity to impose coercive measures, they will resist constraining policies in the case of environmental risks where the evidence can be disputed”. (134)

These “coercive measures”, which we are all expected to go along with, will of course involve unimaginable levels of fascistic surveillance of our lives, particularly in our role as wage slaves.

Write Schwab and Malleret: “The corporate move will be towards greater surveillance; for better or for worse, companies will be watching and sometimes recording what their workforce does. The trend could take many different forms, from measuring body temperatures with thermal cameras to monitoring via an app how employees comply with social distancing”. (135)

Coercive measures of one kind or another are also likely to be used to force people to take the Covid vaccines currently being lined up.

Schwab is deeply connected to that world, being on a “first-name basis” with Bill Gates and having been hailed by Big Pharma mainstay Henry McKinnell, chairman and CEO of Pfizer Inc, as “a person truly dedicated to a truly noble cause”.

So it is not surprising that he insists, with Malleret, that “a full return to ‘normal’ cannot be envisaged before a vaccine is available”. (136)

He adds: “The next hurdle is the political challenge of vaccinating enough people worldwide (we are collectively as strong as the weakest link) with a high enough compliance rate despite the rise of anti-vaxxers”. (137)

“Anti-vaxxers” thus join Schwab’s list of threats to his project, along with anti-globalization and anti-capitalist protesters, Gilets Jaunes and all those engaged in “class conflicts”, “societal resistance” and “political backlash”.

The majority of the world’s population have already been excluded from decision-making processes by the lack of democracy which Schwab wants to accentuate through his stakeholderist corporate domination, his “agile governance”, his totalitarian “system management of human existence”.

But how does he envisage dealing with the “sombre scenario” of people rising up against his great newnormalist reset and his transhumanist Fourth Industrial Revolution?

What degree of “force” and “coercive measures” would he be prepared to accept in order to ensure the dawning of his technocratic new age?

The question is a chilling one, but we should also bear in mind the historical example of the 20th century regime into which Schwab was born.

Hitler’s new Nazi normal was meant to last for a thousand years, but came crashing down 988 years ahead of target.

hitler2

Just because Hitler said, with all the confidence of power, that his Reich would last for a millennium, this didn’t mean that it was so.

Just because Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret and their friends say that we are now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution and our world will be changed for ever, this doesn’t mean that it is so.

We don’t have to accept their New Normal. We don’t have to go along with their fearmongering. We don’t have to take their vaccines. We don’t have to let them implant us with smartphones or edit our DNA. We don’t have to walk, muzzled and submissive, straight into their transhumanist hell.

We can denounce their lies! Expose their agenda! Refuse their narrative! Reject their toxic ideology! Resist their fascism!

Klaus Schwab is not a god, but a human being. Just one elderly man. And those he works with, the global capitalist elite, are few in number. Their aims are not the aims of the vast majority of humankind. Their transhumanist vision is repulsive to nearly everyone outside of their little circle and they do not have consent for the technocratic dictatorship they are trying to impose on us.

That, after all, is why they have had to go to such lengths to force it upon us under the false flag of fighting a virus. They understood that without the “emergency” justification, we were never going to go along with their warped scheme.

They are scared of our potential power because they know that if we stand up, we will defeat them. We can bring their project crashing down before it has even properly started.

We are the people, we are the 99%, and together we can grab back our freedom from the deadly jaws of the fascist machine!

FURTHER READING

Resist the Fourth Industrial Repression!

Fascism, newnormalism and the left

Liberalism: the two-faced tyranny of wealth

Organic radicalism: bringing down the fascist machine

NOTES

1. Klaus Schwab with Nicholas Davis, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: A Guide to Building a Better World (Geneva: WEF, 2018), e-book.
2. Klaus Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution (Geneva: WEF, 2016), e-book.
3. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
4. Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid.
8. Ibid.
9. Ibid.
10. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
11. Ibid.
12. Ibid.
13. Ibid.
14. Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
15. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
16. Ibid.
17. Ibid.
18. Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
19. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
20. Ibid.
21. Ibid.
22. Ibid.
23. Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
24. Ibid.
25. Ibid.
26. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
27. Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
28. Ibid.
29. Ibid.
30. Ibid.
31. Ibid.
32. Ibid.
33. Ibid.
34. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
35. Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
36. Ibid.
37. Ibid.
38. Ibid.
39. Ibid.
40. Ibid.
41. Ibid.
42. Ibid.
43. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
44. Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
45. Ibid.
46. Ibid.
47. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
48. Ibid.
49. Ibid.
50. Kevin Warwick, I, Cyborg (London: Century, 2002), p. 4. See also Paul Cudenec, Nature, Essence and Anarchy (Sussex: Winter Oak, 2016).
51. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
52. Ibid.
53. Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
54. Ibid.
55. Ibid.
56. Klaus Schwab, Thierry Malleret, Covid-19: The Great Reset (Geneva: WEF, 2020), e-book. Edition 1.0.
57. Ibid.
58. Ibid.
59. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
60. Ibid.
61. Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
62. Ibid.
63. Ibid.
64. Schwab, Malleret, Covid-19: The Great Reset.
65. Ibid.
66. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
67. Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
68. Ibid.
69. Ibid.
70. Ibid.
71. Ibid.
72. Schwab, Malleret, Covid-19: The Great Reset.
73. Ibid.
74. Ibid.
75. Ibid.
76. Ibid.
77. Ibid.
78. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
79. Ibid.
80. Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
81. Ibid.
82. Ibid.
83. Ibid.
84. Ibid.
85. Ibid.
86. Ibid.
87. Ibid.
88. Ibid.
89. Ibid.
90. Schwab, Malleret, Covid-19: The Great Reset.
91. Ibid.
92. Ibid.
93. Ibid.
94. Ibid.
95. Ibid.
96. Ibid.
97. Ibid.
98. Ibid.
99. Ibid.
100. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
101. Ibid.
102. Schwab, Malleret, Covid-19: The Great Reset.
103. Ibid.
104. Ibid.
105. Ibid.
108. Ibid.
107. Ibid.
108. Ibid.
109. Ibid.
110. Ibid.
111. Ibid.
112. Ibid.
113. Ibid.
114. Ibid.
115. Ibid.
116. Ibid.
117. Ibid.
118. Ibid.
119. Ibid.
120. Ibid.
121. Ibid.
122. Ibid.
123. Ibid.
124. Ibid.
125. Ibid.
126. Ibid.
127. Ibid.
128. Ibid.
129. Ibid.
130. Benito Mussolini, cit. Pierre Milza and Serge Berstein, Le fascisme italien 1919-1945 (Paris: Editions de Seuil, 1980), p. 246.
131. Schwab, Malleret, Covid-19: The Great Reset.
132. Ibid.
133. Ibid.
134. Ibid.
135. Ibid.
136. Ibid.
137. Ibid.

 

WATCH: Justin Leroy: Race, Finance, and the Afterlife of Slavery [Social Impact Bonds]

WATCH: Justin Leroy: Race, Finance, and the Afterlife of Slavery [Social Impact Bonds]

Art and EducationWhitney Museum of American Art

Filmed March 29, 2017

 

Justin Leroy presents on the overlapping histories of race and financial innovation, from slave insurance to social entrepreneurship, in conjunction with Cameron Rowland’s project for the 2017 Whitney Biennial. Leroy teaches nineteenth-century U.S. history at the University of California, Davis; his book Freedom’s Limit: Racial Capitalism and the Afterlives of Slavery, is forthcoming from Columbia University Press. — Whitney Museum of American Art

 

We cannot unthink our relations to property and the ways in which we govern and justify those bonds without also thinking of racialized capitalism and the afterlife of slavery, as Justin Leroy so eloquently does here. Our work is not so simple a matter as to lament that if we could only move from object/property to subject/human, then we could claim to have uprooted the logics which maintain dominance over our capacity to relate, and by proxy produce something like a life. We must also place these logics and practices within a historical continuum as a way to understand how they remain animate after their alleged abolition. [February, 2019]

Bonded Life, Technologies of racial finance from slave insurance to philanthrocapital

Abstract: “Amid public critiques of Wall Street’s amorality and protests against sharpening inequality since the financial crisis of 2008, the emergent discourse of philanthrocapitalism – philanthropic capitalism – has sought to recuperate a moral centre for finance capitalism. Philanthrocapitalism seeks to marry finance capital with a moral commitment to do good. These strategies require new financial instruments to make poverty reduction and other forms of social welfare profitable business ventures. Social impact bonds (SIBs) – which offer private investors competitive returns on public sector investments – and related instruments have galvanized the financialization of both public services and the life possibilities of poor communities in the USA and the Global South. This article maps new intrusions of credit and debt into previously unmarketable spheres of life, such as prison recidivism outcomes, and argues that contemporary social finance practices such as SIBs are inextricable from histories of race – that financialization has been and continues to be a deeply racialized process. Intervening in debates about the social life of financial practices and the coercive creation of new debtor publics, we chart technologies meant to transform subjects considered valueless into appropriate, even laudable, objects of financial investment. Because their proponents frame SIBs as philanthropic endeavours, the violence required to financialize human life becomes obfuscated. We aim to historicize the violence of financialization by drawing out links between financial capitalism as it developed during the height of the Atlantic slave trade and the more subtle violence of philanthropic financial capitalism. Though the notion that slaves could be a good investment – both in the profitable and moral sense of the word – seems far removed from our contemporary sensibilities, the shadow of slavery haunts SIBs; despite their many differences, both required black bodies to be made available for investment. Both also represent an expansion to the limits of financialization.”

[Zenia Kish & Justin Leroy (2015) Bonded Life, Cultural Studies, 29:5-6, 630-651, DOI: 10.1080/09502386.2015.101713]

Bonded Life Technologies of Racial Finance from Slave Insurance to Philanthrocapital